How to register a death

When someone dies, it is a requirement that the death is registered within 5 days in England and Wales. Following this, it will be possible to proceed with the funeral arrangements. The following information has been put together to support you and answer any questions you may have about the process.

Step 1

Firstly, you will need to locate the nearest registry office. You can do this by visiting this website. Once located, you will need to make an appointment. If there is a requirement to register the death quickly you can ask the registry office about walk in appointments which may be available should somebody not show up to their own appointment. You can contact any registry office but it is usually quicker if you use the one in the area where the person died.

Step 2

Next, once you have your appointment booked you will need to collate a number of documents and gather relevant information. Below is a list of everything you will need to take with you, but do not worry if you do not have all of these; the registry office will tell you what you need to do when you contact them.

You’ll need to tell the Registrar the following:
The registry office may also want to see the person’s:
Ask the registry office what to do if you do not have them.

Step 3

After your appointment ensure that you obtain the following:

1. A Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’) – this document then allows for burial or an application for cremation

2. A Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8) - you may need to fill this in and return it if the person was getting a State Pension or benefits (the form will come with a pre-paid envelope so you know where to send it) You can purchase extra copies of death certificates - these are likely to be needed for sorting out the person’s affairs.

If you still have questions regarding the registration of a death then see the following FAQ’s.

FAQs

A relative should register the death. If a relative cannot register the death, you can do it if you:

  • Were present at the time of death
  • Are an administrator from the hospital (if the person died in hospital)
  • Are in charge of making funeral arrangements (not the funeral director though)

In England and Wales, you will need to register the death within 5 days.

If you do not register the death you may face a fine up to £200. This fine is not likely to be given if the delay is because of a Doctor or Coroner.

The appointment should be made within 5 days of the death and the appointment itself should take no longer than 30 minutes.

The actual registration of the death is free however certificates will incur a fee of between £8 to £12 depending on the location.

A death certificate is the document issued by a Registrar following the entry of the information in the official death register. The certificate is an official notification that a death has occurred and it will include information such as the name, date of birth and death, place of birth and death, occupations, address as well as the name of a spouse and children.

The death certificate is used as an official notice of death and will mostly be used when dealing with the person’s affairs and estate. It is recommended to purchase at least 5 so you can send them off simultaneously to banks, insurance and pension companies.

The UK Government have set up the Tell Us Once service which can be found here. The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform most government organisations all at once about the death. Visit the government webpage to understand what information the service requires and which organisations it will notify for you.

If the Coroner is involved then the death can not be registered until the Coroners investigation is complete. When the Coroner has a cause of death, the Coroner as well as the Doctor will inform the Registrar. This usually occurs within 24hrs from the point at which a cause of death is determined. You can then contact the Registrar to make an appointment to register the death.

If the Coroner decides to hold a post-mortem and when following the completion of this does not require an inquest to be held, the coroner will send a certificate to the Registrar to register the death. (This usually happens within 24hrs of the report being received by the Coroner). The Coroner’s Officer will usually explain the next steps to you and who to contact.

If the Coroner decides to hold an inquest then a death certificate will not be available until after the Inquest is complete. To enable the family to progress with dealing with the estate the Coroner will, on request, issue an Interim Certificate as to the Fact of Death, commonly referred to as the Interim Death Certificate. It is important to note however, that the interim certificate is not a death certificate. Copies of this are supplied to the next of kin once the Inquest has been opened.