Get the Medical Certificate

The hospital or the person's own doctor will issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. You should get this as soon as possible. If there is a Coroner's inquest then the certificate will be issued after the inquest is completed.

Immediately, unless there is a coroner’s inquest where the certificate is issued after this. In the UK the certificate is free.

Registering the Death

Who can register?

  • A close relative of deceased
  • A relative in attendance during last illness
  • A relative living in the district where death occurred
  • A person present at death
  • An owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of it
  • The person arranging the funeral (i.e. Next of kin or relative - but not the funeral director)

Time Limits to Register the Death

  • Within five days for England, Wales or Northern Ireland (Registration can be delayed for another nine days if the registrar is told that a medical certificate has been issued)
  • Within eight days for Scotland.

If there’s a coroner’s (or procurator fiscal if in Scotland) inquest, registration is delayed until the inquest concludes.

Where to Register

Depending on which country the deceased lived in, you must register the death at:

  • In England and Wales - the Registrar of Register Officeof Births, Deaths and Marriages at the appropriate local authority
  • In Northern Ireland - the District Registration Office
  • In Scotland - the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages

If the death took place in hospital or in a nursing home it should be registered at the register office at the local authority area in which the hospital or home is situated.

Documents Required for Registration

  • Medical certificate with the cause of death (from doctor or hospital/hospice)
  • Full name including any previous names (maiden name if applicable)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Last address
  • Occupation
  • Full name (including maiden name), date of birth and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner if they were married

If available, you should also take the deceased’s:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • National Insurance number
  • NHS medical card
  • Proof of address, e.g. utility bill
  • Driving license
  • Passport

You should also take documents (such as a  utility bill) to show proof of your identity when you register the death.


Green Certificate

The registrar will give you a green certificate once the death is registered. This is given to the funeral director. This certificate will allow either burial or cremation to go ahead. The registrar will also give you a form to send to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to enable them to deal with the person's pension and other benefits.

Black Death Certificate

The death certificate is a copy of the entry made by the registrar in the death register. It is required to deal with money or property left by the deceased, including dealing with the will.

Cost of Registration

Registering a death is free. Official copies of the death certificate can be obtained from the Registrar. Depending on the country, costs will vary between £9.25 to £15 per copy.It is advisable to get several copies from the registrar when you register the death. This will be cheaper than getting additional copies later.

Copies of the Death Certificate

Organisations will often request a certified copy of the death certificate in dealing with the affairs of the deceased. Copies make the process quicker than waiting for just one certificate to be returned. When you send a copy of the death certificate always request that it is returned. Keep a record of when it was sent, to whom and when it was returned. Only original copies (or a certified copy by a solicitor) of the death certificate will be accepted as proof of death by organisations.

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