Registering a death

Steps to registering a death

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The steps to registering a death

When someone dies, it is a legal requirement to register the death within five working days of the deceased passing. If the coroner is involved, a person’s death cannot be registered until the coroner has finished their investigations over how the death occurred.  Registering a death is the last formal step to take before you can arrange a funeral. To do this, you will need to acquire a medical certificate detailing the cause of the deceased passing away. 

Registering a death

Who can register a death?

A range of people either related to or involved with the deceased can register a death. This person is known as the informant. 

  • The deceased’s relative
  • An occupant of the deceased’s residential home
  • A senior official from the hospital where the death took place
  • The person arranging the funeral
  • An official person who is in charge of the bodyA person who was present at the death

How to register a death

To register a death in the UK, this process has to be made in person at a registry office (it can’t be done online). This usually takes around 30 minutes, where you will be interviewed by a registrar and asked a range of questions about the person who died: who they are, how they died, and the date of passing. 

To make this sensitive time run as smoothly as possible, it’s best to register the death of a loved one at the closest register office to where they died. It can take longer to get the relevant documentation approved if you try to register a death in another area

What you need when registering a death 

When you visit the registrar, you will be required to take the following documents with you, detailing information about the deceased:

  • The deceased’s birth certificate
  • Proof of their address, such as a utility bill
  • Their driving licence and if possible, their passport
  • If they were disabled, bring their Blue Badge
  • A  civil partnership or marriage certificate
  • If applicable, an NHS medical card or National Insurance number of the living spouse or civil partner
  • If the deceased was previously widowed, provide the death certificate for the spouse or civil partner

To help this process, it’s also worthwhile having the following contact information readily available:

  • Full name
  • Any other names, previous names (has their name changed at all?)
  • Date of birth 
  • Place of birth
  • Occupation and details of their previous roles
  • Latest address of the person who has passed
  • The details of the deceased’s surviving spouse or civil partner: name, occupation
  • The next of kin’s details
  • Details of their work and pensions
  • Their national insurance number

You can find your nearest registry office in England and Wales using the register a death page.

Following the interview, in a special ink that doesn’t fade, you will confirm that all the details are correct and sign a permanent record to confirm the death registration. The information provided will be used to inform government departments of the person’s passing.

What happens once you have registered a death?

Once you have made the registration of death, you will be provided with a certified death certificate. This is the official documentation to provide for companies and authorities to inform them about the death of a loved one. 

You’ll also be provided with a certificate for burial or cremation which you can provide to a funeral director once you’re ready to organise a funeral. This document is also known as a green certificate. It’s official documentation to confirm you have permission for the body to be buried or cremated.

Now you have a copy of the death certificate, an entry of the deceased’s death is made in the death register. This listing confirms the name of the person who has passed and details how they died. Several copies of the death certificate are required as proof to banks and other institutions to confirm the passing of the person linked to those accounts. These can be provided by the registrar where your name will be printed on each to confirm. You do not have to provide a death certificate to the DVLA.

The cost of a death certificate

Although the registration is free, it costs to acquire copies of a death certificate. In England and Wales it’s £11; it’s more than likely you will need additional copies of the death certificate as you process each administrative task required when someone dies. 

In some cases, the original certificate may be requested. In this case, you will need to provide the certified copy. Copies of a death certificate are distributed within 14 working days. For copies required sooner, you can pay an additional fee of £35 for the priority service. 

For more advice on arranging a funeral see here

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