Registering a death

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.

On this page:

When to register a death 

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.

How to register a death 

This might happen differently depending on where you live, and whether the person died at home or in a hospice, hospital or care home.
 
When you get the medical certificate of cause of death, ask for the contact details of the local register office. You can also find your local register office online:
 
In England and Wales, it’s best to use the register office closest to where the person died. You can try to use a register office in another area, but the paperwork may take longer and this could delay funeral arrangements.
 
In Northern Ireland and Scotland, the death can be registered in any district or council registration office.

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.

Who can register a death 

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.

What you'll need 

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.

You should also try to find the person’s:
  • 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
  • passport.
Don’t worry if you can’t find all of these documents – you’ll still be able to register the death without them. The registrar will want to know:
 
  • 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.

Forms you'll get from the registrar 

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.

Scotland

The registrar will give you:
 
  • 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.

Northern Ireland

The registrar will give you:
 
  • 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.
You might also be given the phone number and or a unique reference number to use online for a service called Tell Us Once   (in Scotland, Wales and most of England). This will forward details of the person who died to all central and local government departments. In Northern Ireland, the Bereavement Service   will forward details to any department that paid benefits to the person who died. See more on our page, Telling organisations about a death.
 

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.

Getting copies of the death certificate 

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

The cost of a certified copy varies across the UK but is usually between £8 and £12. Contact the local register office to find out the cost. It’s best to try to get enough copies when you first register the death as buying more later on is sometimes more expensive.
 
If you find you need more copies, you can get these from the local register office or the General Register Office   (England and Wales), the General Register Office Northern Ireland  , or National Records Scotland  

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