Registering a death


Why do I have to register the death?

All deaths have to be registered, and the people closest to the deceased person have a legal obligation to do this. Deaths in England and Wales or Northern Ireland should be registered within 5 days – if this is not going to be possible, you should inform the Registrar. In Scotland, deaths must be registered within 8 days.

Which Registrar's Office should I go to?

In England and Wales, the death has to be registered at the registrar’s office in the area where the death occurred. This is the case even if the death occurred a distance from home. However, there is a facility available to attend your local registrar’s office to register a death that occurred in another area. This is called Registration by Declaration, and involves the two registrars transferring documents by fax and post in order to register the death. Depending on the circumstances, this can delay the date of the funeral – we can advise on this.

If the deceased dies in east Yorkshire the death can be registered at any east riding registry office. In York or Hull it must be a registry office within the city, this also applies if the deceased dies in a city hospital - they must be registered in the registrars serving that city.

What do I need to register the death?

When registering a death that was expected and that has occurred in England or Wales, you will need to take the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor) with you. If available (but don’t worry if not), also take the deceased’s:-

  • birth certificate;
  • Council Tax bill;
  • driving licence;
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate;
  • NHS medical card;
  • Passport;
  • proof of address (ie utility bill).

You will need to tell the registrar:-

  • the person’s full name at the time of death;
  • any names previously used, ie maiden name;
  • the person’s date and place of birth;
  • their last address;
  • their occupation;
  • the full name, birth date and occupation of a surviving/late spouse/civil partner;
  • whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits.

You should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (ie a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them.

The informant will then sign the register, certifying that the information that has been given to the registrar is correct.

When the Coroner is involved, the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is replaced by one from HM Coroner. Your funeral firm or, if necessary, the Coroner’s Office, will be able to advise you when you will be able to attend the Registrar’s Office to register the death.

What will the Registrar give me?

In the majority of cases the registrar will then issue:-

  • copies of the entry in the register – on payment of the prescribed fee. NB: copies of the entry, which are usually required for legal purposes, may be obtained from the registrar up to six months from the date of registration. After six months copies can be obtained from The Registrar General, PO Box 2, Southport PR8 2JD;
  • the registrar’s Certificate for Burial or Cremation (this form is green in colour). NB: this form should be handed to your nominated funeral firm, which will hand it to the appropriate authority in due course;
  • a Certificate of Registration or Notification of Death. This certificate is needed in order to claim benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP);
  • leaflets on State benefits and Form 48 (procedure for dealing with Wills).