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Registering a Death - The Process

23rd November 2018

Normally registering the death is the first practical thing which you'll need to do when someone has passed away. It can be difficult knowing where, when and how you need to do it so the below information should provide answers to these questions.  

If you’re unclear on where to start following a bereavement, call us on freephone 0800 634 9494 and we can go through your next steps together.

Who Can Register the Death?

The following people can usually register a death but sometimes this varies depending on where the person dies. It's normally only relatives or people specifically qualified by law who can complete the registration. The person who registers the death is also known as the 'the informant'.

This can be:

  • A relative (includes relatives by marriage and civil partners)
  • Someone who was present at the death
  • The occupier or an official of the premises where the death happened
  • Another person living at the house if he or she knew of the death
  • The person making the funeral arrangements

As a rule Registrars prefer the closest relation to carry out the registration, but they are also expected to avoid causing unnecessary distress. Normally they wouldn't insist that a widow attends to register if an adult child of the deceased goes in her place but it is at their discretion, so if you're concerned you might want to check when you call and make the appointment.

When Do I Need to Register the Death?

Once you've received the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the GP or the hospital, you have 5 days to register the death (8 days if you're in Scotland). It's important to remember that if the Registrar is particularly busy it may take longer to get an appointment but as long as you call to make the appointment within 5 days you're not doing anything wrong. In addition if the coroner is involved there may be additional delays, but these are out of your control and are not included in the 5 day rule.

Where Can I Register the Death?

The death needs to be registered in the district/county where the person died, not where they lived. If you're unsure where the Registry Office is you can check here.

If it's genuinely impossible for you to go to the Registry office in the area where the person died it is possible to carry out a declaration of death at your local Registrar. You'll still need to take the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and the other required information, detailed below, and the Registrar will then send the details to the correct Registrar. This is all done by normal mailing services and can mean there are delays in the Death Certificates being issued, so if you need to arrange the funeral quickly it's probably best to avoid this if you can.

What Do I Need to Take to the Registry Office?

You'll need to provide as much information as you can to the Registrar, however if there's something you can't find you shouldn't delay the registration, unless you know you'll have it within a couple of days.

There are 2 types of information which are required, examples are below but it would be worthwhile checking the full list so that you are prepared.


  • NHS card (also called the medical card)
  • Birth Certificate
  • National Insurance number
  • Driving Licence/Passport

Information about the deceased:

  • Date and place of death
  • Address
  • Full names (including maiden name, if applicable, or other names by which they may have previously been know)
  • Details of their wife, husband or civil partner

You'll also need to take documentation showing your name and address for example a utility bill or a bank statement.

What Will the Registrar Give Me?

Usually you'll be given an A4 wallet containing the main documents you'll need for your next steps and information about useful services.

The main documents will be:

  • Death Certificates – They are all certified copies of the original entry (which stays with the Registrar) and they are light green in colour. You can have as many of these as you wish, but there will be a charge for each copy. It's usually cheaper to get these on the day of registration rather than on another day. If anyone asks for an original Death Certificate, this is the one they mean.
  • Certificate for Cremation or Burial – Referred to as the "Green Form" this allows the Funeral Director to go ahead with the official funeral arrangements.
  • BD8 - Registration of Notification of Death – DWP – You might not need this if you are offered the Tell Us Once service to notify the Government organisations of the death.

Useful services include:

  • Mail Suppression – Provided by The Deceased Preference Service to reduce junk mail and marketing mail in the name of the person who has died. It doesn't stop anything important or expected and can help to reduce the risk of identity fraud.
  • Death Notification Service – Bereavement Advice Centre have this free service to help you with the initial notifications to companies like banks, building societies, utilities etc when someone dies.

The appointment with the Registrar normally takes about half an hour but if Tell Us Once is available it can be a bit longer. It's worth bearing in mind Tell Us Once isn't available in all Registrars but if it is, you'll be given a unique reference number to activate the service. If the Registrar doesn't point this out to you at the office it's normally tucked right in the back of the A4 wallet behind the other paperwork.

If the death occurred overseas: Normally the registration is completed according to local procedures and a local Death Certificate will be issued. Often these are acceptable in the UK as long as the key pieces of information are legible and easily identified but sometimes a certified translation may be required if the certificate is not in English. You should take some advice from the local consulate about how you can have a translation certified if you get it in the country where the person passed away.

You can choose to register the death with the General Register Office UK but this isn't mandatory and doesn't automatically have to be done. It can also be a lengthy and expensive process however there is additional information on the website.

For practical help and bereavement advice, call us on freephone 0800 634 9494

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