How to register a death

Posted in: Finance Last updated: 19 Jul 2013

When someone dies you need to register their death and get a death certificate before you can bury or cremate them. By law, you've generally got just five days to register a death in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and eight days in Scotland.

Registering a death means that official systems, like taxes, can stop and things like bank accounts can be wound up. You can register a death at the nearest Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths to where the person died.

What is a death certificate

A death certificate is a document that officially records that someone has died. You get a death certificate from the registrar when he or she has written details about the death in a book called the death register.

Usually it's the closest relative (next of kin), or someone who was there when the person died who registers a death.

How to register a death

There are four stages to registering a death:

1. Find out if a post mortem is needed

The coroner, in England or Wales, or procurator fiscal, in Scotland, will decide if a post mortem is needed. This sometimes happens if the person died unexpectedly or during an operation.

2. Get a medical certificate of cause of death

You can get this from a GP or doctor at the hospital or care home where the person died. This says why the person died. Without this certificate you might still be able to register the death. But you'll only be able to bury, not cremate the person.

3. Take the paperwork to the registrar

You'll need to take the following information and documents about the person who has died to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths:

  • medical certificate of cause of death
  • birth certificate (if available)
  • marriage or civil partnership certificates (if relevant)
  • National Health Service medical card (if available)
  • full name
  • address at time of death
  • previous names (maiden name) or aliases
  • date and place of birth (town and county if born in the UK, just country if born abroad)
  • occupation
  • state pension or benefits, if claimed
  • any surviving spouse or civil partner's full name, date of birth and occupation


4. Distribute the certificates

You get these from the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Once you have them, you will need to send copies to the right people.

  • death certificate - give copies to the people sorting out money or property arrangements
  • certificate for burial or cremation - give this to the funeral director
  • certificate of registration of death - send copies to Jobcentre Plus or Social Security if the person who died received state pension or benefits


You can get further information about registering a death from www.gov.uk/after-a-death/register-the-death »

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.