Registering a death
Once the death has been verified and certified, you’ll need to register the death with a local registrar. The registrar will then issue the forms that you’ll need to organise the burial or cremation, and to sort out practical things like finances.
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All deaths need to be registered with the registrar for births, deaths and marriages. This must be done within:
- five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- eight days in Scotland.
This includes weekends and bank holidays. It may differ if the registrar agrees to extend the period, or if the death has been referred to the coroner. If a death has been referred to the coroner, you’ll need to wait for them to give permission before you can register the death.
There’s no cost for registering a death. But you will need to pay to get copies of the death certificate.
Many register offices will only see someone by appointment, so it’s best to call in advance to book a time. It usually takes around half an hour to register a death.
Check the government's latest advice on staying at home and contact with other people. You don’t need to go to the register office in person. You can phone them instead to register a death.
In some cases, the doctor who fills out the medical certificate of cause of death will send it to the register office. Then the register office will call you to go through the process of registering the death over the phone.
Most deaths are registered by a family member. If a family member can’t register the death, it can be registered by one of the following people:
- Someone who was present at the death.
- The person’s executor or other legal representative.
- An owner or occupier of the part of the building where the death took place if they were aware of the death.
- The person arranging the funeral
- The funeral director.
In Northern Ireland, the death can also be registered by:
- the governor, matron or chief officer of a public building where the death occurred
- a person finding, or taking charge of, the body
- the funeral director.
If you are in any doubt about who can register a death, you can call the register office.
If you’re registering the death, you must have the medical certificate of cause of death to hand. The GP or hospital doctor will give this to you.
- birth and marriage or civil partnership certificate
- NHS medical card
- proof of their address, such as a utility bill
- documents relating to receipt of government pension or allowances
- driving licence
- the person’s full name (at the time of their death)
- any other names that the person used (eg a birth or married name)
- their date and place of birth, including the town and county if they were born in the UK, or just the country if they were born abroad
- their last address
- their occupation or last occupation if now retired
- the full name of their husband, wife or civil partner, if they’ve died
- details of any state pension or other state benefit they were receiving.
England and Wales
The registrar will issue two documents:
- A Certificate for Burial and Cremation. This is often known as the green certificate or form. It gives permission for the body to be buried or for an application for cremation to be made, and you should give this to the funeral director.
- A Certificate for Registration of Death (form BD8). This is also called a death certificate. You’ll need this to deal with the person’s affairs if they were getting a pension or benefits.
- A Certificate for Registration of Death (form 14) so the funeral can take place.
- A Registration or Notification of Death (form 334/SI), which you’ll need to deal with the person’s affairs if they were getting a pension or benefits.
- a GRO41 form which gives permission for the funeral to take place
- a Certificate of Registration of Death (form 36/BD8), which you’ll need to deal with the person’s affairs if they were getting a pension or benefits.
If the burial needs to happen quickly
Some burials need to happen within 24 hours of the death. For example, for religious or cultural reasons. You can get advice from the local registrar or funeral director about this.
You can only hold the funeral or arrange for the cremation to take place after you’ve received the death certificate. Registering the death itself is free, but you have to pay for death certificates. You’ll usually need one certified copy (not a photocopy) for each insurance, bank or pension company you’re dealing with. You may also need to give copies to the executor or administrator who is dealing with the property of the person who’s died. The executor of the Will and the registrar should be able to help you work out how many copies you need.
Cost of getting a death certificate
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About this information
This information is not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.