How to register a death in UK

In this guide

Registering the death

One of the first things that needs to be done when someone dies is to register their death. It’s a time-sensitive law requirement which must be done prior to organising the funeral, notifying the relevant departments and institutions, dealing with the deceased person’s Will etc. 

This guide shows you what you need to do to register a death in the UK:

When do you need to register the death

All deaths must be registered with the Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages within: 

    • five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 
    • eight days in Scotland 

The above timeframes include weekends and Bank holidays. 

If the death is referred to a Coroner (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland), you need to wait until they complete their investigations and issue a certificate to allow the registration. 

Who can register the death

Most deaths can be registered by a family member, close relative or anyone else, providing that they meet the following requirements: 

    • They were present at the time of death
      They were present during the person’s last illness 
    • They live in the district where the death occurred 
    • They are an owner or occupier of the building where the death occurred and they were aware of the death 
    • They are the person arranging the funeral but not the Funeral Director 

In addition to the above, a death in Northern Ireland can also be registered by: 

    • The governor, matron or chief officer of the public building where the death occurred 
    • The person who found or who is taking charge of the body 

You cannot delegate the responsibility of registering the death to anyone else. Call your local Register Office if you are not sure who should register the death. 

What documents do you need when registering a death 

You can’t register the death without the Medical Certificate Of Cause Of Death. 

You will also need your passport, driving licence or some other form of ID to proof your identity. 

Medical Certificate Of Cause Of Death 

If the death was expected and happened at home or in hospital, you need to ask the doctor who is involved with the case to complete a Medical Certificate Of Cause Of Death. You need this certificate in order to register the Death. 

Unexpected death 

If the death was sudden, it needs to be investigated. In those instances, the emergency doctor or the police will notify the Coroner whose job it is to find out how and why the person died. In Scotland, sudden deaths are investigated by the Procurator Fiscal. 

Although you can register the death without them, it helps if you bring the person’s: 

    • Proof of address (utility bill with their name) 
    • NHS medical card 
    • Birth certificate 
    • Marriage or Civil Partnership certificate (if applicable) 
    • Driving licence (if applicable) 
    • Passport 

If they were receiving a State Pension or any other benefits and you have access to those documents, you can bring them to the Registrar too. 

What information do you need to prepare for the death registration

When registering the Death, the Registrar will need the following information about the deceased from you: 

    • Date and place of death 
    • Full name and last address 
    • Date and place of birth – town and county if they were born in the UK or the country if they were born abroad. 
    • Occupation or last occupation if they were retired 
    • Marital status 
    • Full name, date of birth and occupation of their spouse or civil partner – if applicable 
    • Information about their State Pension or other benefits – if applicable 

What documents will be given to you after you register the death

When you register the Death, the Registrar will give you the following documents: 

    • Certificate for burial or cremation (Green Form) 
    • You need to give it to your Funeral Director. 
    • Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8) 

If the deceased was receiving benefits or a State Pension, you need to fill it out and send it to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or to the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland. 

Please note that if you use the Tell US Once service, that won’t be necessary. 

    • DeathCertificate 

You will need it when dealing with banks, utilities companies, Government departments, solicitors etc. It’s a good idea to ask for extra copies of the Death Certificate whilst there but please note that they are not free. 

Did we miss any of the steps required for registering a death in the UK?

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