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When someone dies, the doctor who was treating the deceased gives the relatives a medical certificate of the cause of death.

The person who will be registering the death must take this certificate to the registrar's office within five days of the date of death. The details are recorded in the death register and the person registering the death signs the record.

Who can register a death?

A ‘qualified informant’ must register a death – usually this is a relative of the deceased, but other people who can register include:

  • someone present at the death
  • the owner or manager of the residential home where the death occurred, if relevant
  • the person responsible for organising the funeral.

What information is required?

To register a death you must provide the following information about the deceased:

  • place and date of death
  • full name, including maiden name if relevant
  • date and place of birth
  • occupation
  • address
  • for women, thefull details of their husband/late husband if married or a widow
  • the spouse’s date of birth if married
  • whether they were receiving a pension or allowance from public funds.

If you have received a cause of death certificate from a doctor, this should be given to the registrar when you register the death.

What happens next?

After registering the death you will be issued with:

  • a green certificate for burial or cremation – the funeral director will need this before the funeral can take place
  • a white certificate of registration of death (BD8) to pass to the Department of Social Security. Further instructions are on the certificate.
  • certified copies of the death certificate – usually needed for insurance or probate services. A fee of £3.50 is charged for each certificate.

When a medical certificate cannot be issued

Sometimes it is not possible for a medical certificate of the cause of death to be issued, for example if the death was sudden or the doctor is unavailable. When this happens, the death has to be reported to the coroner.

When the coroner is involved

The coroner is responsible for investigating sudden or suspicious deaths, and establishing the causes of such deaths.

Registering a death in a different district

Occasionally it can be inconvenient for the person registering the death to go to the registrar’s office in the district where the person died. In these cases they can visit a registrar in another district. The registrar will then complete a form of declaration which is sent back to the appropriate registrar.

This declaration is used to complete the death register. The registrar in the district where the death occurred will post the certificate of the death back to the appropriate person. This can be ordered and paid for when making the declaration. This also applies to the document that is issued to allow the funeral to proceed.

The declaration procedure can delay funerals by a day or two.

Stillborn babies

All stillborn babies born after the 24th week of pregnancy must be registered. .


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