FIRST STEPS

Registering a Death – an overview

The key points to be aware of are:
  • No funeral is possible before registration
  • Register within 5 days of the death
  • Make an appointment
  • The death is registered at the District Registration Office for the area where the death occurred
  • The informant is usually a relative
  • Essential to take certificate showing cause of death
  • Other information about the deceased will be required (see details)
  • Obtain Certificate allowing burial or cremation (sometimes called the “green form”)
  • Obtain copies of the death certificate (£4.00 each)

Register the Death – detailed

 

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 below 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 Register 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 below 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.

Referral to a Coroner

A coroner’s job is to ensure that as far as possible the cause of death is known and to investigate violent or unnatural deaths. If a doctor certifies a death then the coroner does not need to be involved, but this can only happen if the doctor is certain of the cause and has also attended the deceased within the fourteen days prior to death and there were no unusual circumstances. Deaths must otherwise be reported to the coroner and where death occurred in the following circumstances:
  • As a result of deliberate or accidental self harm e.g… suicide, drug abuse, neglect
  • As a result of neglect when a duty of care exists, for instance social services, care homes, parents of children under 18, children looking after elderly parents
  • An unanticipated death of a child
  • If violent crime was involved
  • As a result of an accident
  • During or shortly after detention by the authorities e.g.. police, customs or under the Mental Health Act
  • As a result of something the Police either did or failed to do
  • As a result of treatment or lack of treatment by doctors or medical staff
  • As a result of present or past employment e.g. accidents or industrial diseases
  • If the GP cannot identify a cause
  • As a result of childbirth or abortion
  • As a result of a specified disease e.g. MRSA
  • When death occurred overseas and the body is repatriated. See Deaths Abroad
Although this is a long list, about 70% of deaths in the UK do not need to be reported to the coroner.

What the Coroner will do

Often the coroner will consult with the GP and if the GP is confident of the cause of death they may be allowed to issue the death certificate as normal. The coroner may, however, decide that a post-mortem investigation is needed to determine the cause of death. Unlike a post-mortem requested by a hospital doctor, relatives cannot object to one ordered by a coroner. If the post-mortem satisfies the coroner that death was due to natural causes then he will normally send a Form 100 directly to the registrar so that the death can be registered. If the body is to be buried the registrar will give you the form authorising this. If it is to be cremated then the coroner will give you the appropriate form.

Inquests

If the post-mortem was inconclusive or if death was not by natural causes or needs investigating then the coroner will hold an inquest to determine the facts. An inquest is a public hearing and the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, their Personal Representatives and their next of kin will be informed. If a claim for negligence or compensation against a third party is a possibility then you should also have legal representation at the hearing. The coroner will not release the body for burial or cremation until the inquest in concluded.

TellUsOnce

What is Tell Us Once?
Tell Us Once is a relatively new service designed to report a death to all relevant Government departments on your behalf. After successful trials in a few local authorities it is now being extended nationally, although it may not yet be available everywhere. When you register a death the Registrar will give you a unique reference number to access the Tell Us Once service online or by phone. You should take advantage of this as it will save you time. As a minimum they will need the following information about the deceased:
• Death certificate details
• National Insurance number
• Date of birth
• Details of the person or firm dealing with the estate
• Details of any benefits and services they were getting
• government benefits (state pension etc.)
• local council benefits (blue badge etc.)
• Name of the next of kin
What can they do?
The Tell Us Once staff can inform the following services about the death and arrange to cancel services:
  • Adult Services
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Blue Badge parking permit
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Children’s Services
  • Council Housing
  • Council Tax
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
  • Electoral Services
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Library Services
  • UK Passport Service
  • Pension Credit
  • State Pension
  • Working Tax Credit