What to Do When Someone Dies – How do You Register a Death?
Before you can register a death a medical certificate of the cause of death needs to be obtained, the process is slightly different depending on whether a person dies at home or in a hospital or nursing home.
When someone dies at home
When someone passes away at home their doctor (GP) needs to be informed as soon as possible. The GP will usually visit the home and should be able to issue a certificate giving the cause of death if the death was expected.
If you are not sure who their GP was then you should call an ambulance instead.
If the GP is unsure about the cause of death then they will not be able to issue the certificate, in this case the coroner must be informed.
The body of the person who has died will then be taken to a hospital mortuary where a post mortem may need to take place.
When someone dies in hospital
If a person dies in hospital, a hospital doctor will issue the certificate of cause of death.
The remains of the person who has died will be taken to the hospital mortuary while you arrange for a funeral director to collect them. If the doctor is unsure about the cause of death then they will not be able to issue the certificate, in this case the coroner will be informed and they may order a post mortem examination.
A death usually needs to be registered within 5 days and in the register office covering the area where the person lived, unless the person died in a hospital or nursing home in which case it should be the office covering that address. Registration can be extended for a further 9 days if a medical certificate has been issued, however if the coroner is involved then you cannot register the death until these investigations are completed.
The death can be registered by any of the following:
- a relative of the person who has died;
- a person present when the person died;
- a relative living in the district where the person died;
- an person who owns or lived at the place where the person died;
- the person arranging the funeral, but this cannot be the funeral director;
You will need to provide the medical certificate of the cause of death, and if possible their birth certificate and marriage or civil partnership certificate, and also if possible their NHS medical card;
The registrar will also need to know:
- The date and place that the person died;
- The full name of the person (including maiden name);
- Their address;
- Their date of birth;
- The persons occupation and, for married or widowed women, the full name and occupation of her husband;
- Detail of a pension or benefits that the person was receiving;
When you have registered the death, the registrar will give you a green form to give to your funeral director. This is the certificate authorising a burial or cremation service.
The registrar will also give you a certificate of the registration of a death to send to the Department for Work and Pensions or local Social Security office.
The death certificate is also needed to close bank accounts and insurance, and to deal with property and the will of the deceased so it is advisable to purchase several copies from the registrar.