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Register the Death

Timescale

You must normally register a death within five days. This can be extended to fourteen days, but only if you give the Registrar written confirmation that you have a medical certificate showing the cause of death. If the coroner is involved these limits do not apply - the death cannot be registered until the coroner's investigations are finished (which also means that the funeral cannot take place). See here for more about coroners.

Where to register the death

A death in the UK is always registered in the District in which it took place so you should do this in person at the nearest Registry Office. If you attend a different Registry Office you can only attest the death - the details you give will be sent to the correct Office for Registration and will result in some delay. The death has to be registered before the funeral can take place and the process takes about half an hour. It is likely that you will need to make an appointment before you attend the Registry Office. Details of the nearest Registry Office are in the phone book, but the DirectGov website has an excellent look-up tool. Find Registry Office If the death occurred abroad it will need to be registered according to the laws of the country where the death took place. See here for more.

Who can register the death

Deaths are normally registered by a relative present at the death. However if there were none present it is possible for one of the following to register it:

  • A relative present during the illness or living in the District where the death occurred
  • Someone present at the death
  • An occupant of the house
  • An official from the hospital
  • The person making the funeral arrangements

There is a legal duty to report a death and you can be fined up to £200 for failing to do so.

What you will need to register the death

When you attend the meeting with the Registrar you will need the following:

  • A medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor)
  • The birth certificate of the deceased
  • The marriage or civil partnership certificate of the deceased
  • The deceased’s NHS medical card

The latter three items are not essential but it will speed up the process if they are presented to the Registrar. The Registrar will also want to know the following:

  • The full name of the deceased at the time of their death
  • Any previous names of the deceased (including maiden name)
  • Their address
  • Their current occupation, or their occupation on retirement
  • The full name, address, date of birth and occupation of any surviving spouse or civil partner
  • Whether the deceased was in receipt of a state pension or other state benefit

What you will you get from the Registrar

The Registrar will issue a “Green Form” which is a certificate for burial or cremation which essentially gives permission for the body to be buried, or for an application for cremation to be made. If you are using a funeral director you will give this form to them. You will also receive a Certificate of Registration of Death (Form BD8 - commonly called a 'Death Certificate'). If you require additional copies of the death certificate you can purchase them from the Registrar. Given that many institutions require an original signed copy of the death certificate it is recommended that additional copies are purchased (5-10 should be sufficient). Each additional copy costs £4.00. If you need further copies after this they will cost £7 each while the physical register is still being used (up to about 6 weeks). After this the register will be stored centrally and copies will cost £10 each.
If the deceased was in receipt of state benefits or state pension you will also be given a form to complete and return for the state records to be updated and to stop further payments being made.
After registration you may be offered an appointment under the Tell Us Once scheme. This service undertakes to inform all relevant government services of the death and can save you a lot of time.

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