Registering the Death

This is a legal requirement to formally acknowledge the ending of a life. A death should be registered within 5 days (including weekends and Bank Holidays) at a register office. A register office is a British government office where births, deaths and marriages are officially recorded and civil marriages take place.  You are free to go to any register office, however, if you use the one in the area where the person died, you’ll be given the necessary documents on the day.  If you plan on using a different register office, then the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person died before they can be issued to you, which means there will be a wait of a few days.

When the cause of death is known and is from natural causes, a doctor who was caring for the person who died prior to them dying will issue a Medical Certificate of the cause of death.  This will give the name of the person who has died, their age, place of death and the cause of death.  The doctor will also state when they last saw the patient. 

If the cause of death is unknown or it was sudden or unexplained then it may be reported to the coroner.  Coroners are government officials who are appointed directly by the Crown.  They are completely independent and have extensive qualifications as a lawyer, a medical doctor or sometimes both.  Coroners investigate all deaths where the cause is unknown or where there is reason to think the death may not be due to natural causes. The Coroner will investigate each case in an appropriate way. It may be as simple as consulting with the doctor who last treated the person who has died, or a post mortem examination may be needed. In some cases, the Coroner may open an inquest, which is a judicial inquiry into the death.

The process of registering the death is quite informal and it involves a face-to-face interview with the registrar. You may feel more comfortable taking somebody along with you.

Who can register the death?

  • A relative,

  • Someone who was present at the time of death

  • An administrator from the hospital (if the person died in hospital)

  • The person(s) in charge of making the funeral arrangements

  • The executor named in the Will

Details required for Registering the Death:

The register office will need certain information from you. In the early stages of bereavement many people struggle to recall even basic information and so it may be best to write this information down to take along to your appointment. This will include information such as the name and address of the person who has died as well as their date and place of birth and the details of their spouse/partner.

The death certificate will  be issued, along with a “Certificate for Burial or Cremation” which will enable you to arrange the funeral with a Funeral Director and to begin dealing with the assets.

You must register the death before the funeral can take place.