Registering the death

Unless the cause of death is unknown, in England and Wales you need to register the death within five days, and within eight days in Scotland. It’s best to call your local register office to find out if you need to make an appointment.

Some councils offer the Tell Us Once service. This is a way to register the death online and tell various government departments about the death. Ask your register office if the Tell Us Once service is available when you call to make an appointment, and let them know if you want to use it.

It’s a difficult time and there’s a lot to do. Deal with one thing at a time and don’t be afraid of asking for support.

At the Registrar’s office

The death must be registered with The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the district where the death occurred. The Registrar will then issue the Death Certificate. Don’t worry if you can’t get to the right office; you can register the death with the Registrar near you and the information will be sent to the right office. Bear in mind this will cause a small delay before you receive the Death Certificate.

You don’t need to wait until the death has been registered before making arrangements for the funeral.

When you go to register the death, make sure you have all the information the Registrar needs. Here’s a checklist:

  • The Medical Certificate issued by the doctor after the death
  • The full name of the person who has died, including maiden name and middle names
  • When and where the death occurred
  • The full address of the person who has died
  • Their date and place of birth
  • Their occupation
  • What government pension or state benefits they were receiving
  • if the person was married or in a civil partnership, the date of birth of their surviving wife, husband or civil partner.
  • The occupation of their wife, husband or civil partner

You don’t need to have these to register the death, but it will help if they’re available:

  • Their birth, marriage or civil partnership certificates
  • Their NHS medical card

What the Registrar does next

Once the death has been registered, the Registrar will give you:

  • A Certificate for burial or cremation
  • A Certificate of registration of death. This form is for benefit purposes only. You need to complete this if the person was receiving benefits, and send it to the local Benefits Agency.
  • Information about bereavement benefits you can claim, and tax information for surviving partners, husbands or wives.
  • A Death Certificate. This is a certified copy of the information recorded by the Registrar in the death register. You’ll need a Death Certificate for the will, sorting out the estate, and for claims to pensions, savings, Premium Bonds, and insurance policies. There is a fee for the Death Certificate.

Try to remember to ask for extra copies of the Death Certificate. They’ll be more expensive to order later. It’s helpful to have several copies to hand when it’s time to sort out the estate, and deal with other agencies and organisations.

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