When someone dies there are practical arrangements to be made. For many people this can provide a useful focus and help them to cope in the initial weeks, whilst for others it can seem overwhelming. The following is a simple guide to registering a death and arranging a funeral in the UK.
1. Firstly obtain a medical certificate of death from a hospital doctor or your GP. This will need to show the cause of death. If the cause of death is unknown, a coroner may be involved. See below for When a Coroner is Involved.
2. The death needs to be registered within 5 days (8 days in Scotland) of either the death or the issuing of a certificate by the coroner. You can register the death at any registry office, but if you register it at the office closest to where the person died, you will be given the documents on the day. Ring ahead to see if you need to make an appointment.
Usually, a relative must register the death, but you can also register it if you were there at the time of death, are the person who found the body, are the person in charge of the body or are in charge of making funeral arrangements.
3. You will need the following information about the deceased:
- their full name at the time of death
- maiden name if married
- date of birth and place of birth
- last occupation (even if retired)
- marital status and full name, date of birth and occupation of surviving spouse or civil partner
- whether they were receiving any state benefits
- your full name, address and relationship to the deceased with ID and proof of address.
4. You will be given a Certificate of the Registration of Death (form BD8). You will need to work out how many copies of this certificate you require; normally 4 will be enough but the amount depends on how many insurance policies, mortgages, loans, etc. the deceased has as a copy will need to be sent to each one. Utility companies do not usually require a copy of the death certificate; just inform them as soon as possible and take a meter reading if this is appropriate. See below for a checklist of Who to Inform of the Death.
6. You will be given a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (green form) which you should give to the funeral director. Note that is different if an inquest is held - see below for When a Coroner is Involved.
Who to Inform of the Death
- the Benefits Office
- place of work and trade union
- doctor, dentist, optician, other medical professionals and hospital if attending
- landlord or Council Housing Department if renting
- Council Tax office
- The Inland Revenue
- Mortgage, loan and credit card companies and insurance companies
- Utility companies - take a meter reading if necessary or arrange to transfer the bill to sole name
Return the following documents with a note explaining the date of death
- Benefit and Pension books
- Driving Licence
- Car registration documents
- National Insurance Papers
- Membership of any clubs, library, season tickets, trade associations, unions. Check to see if a refund is due.
You may wish to put a notice in the paper informing people of the death although most people now rely on social media. Inform any clubs, pubs or associations where the person was well known. Make a list of any associates, relatives, friends and anyone in your address book who may write to you, even if only occasionally, and check contacts in the mobile phone or email contact list.
If a Coroner is involved
A doctor may report the death to a coroner if the
- cause of death is unknown
- death was violent or unnatural
- death was sudden and unexplained
- death occurred during an operation or medical procedure
- a medical certificate isn't available
- it may have been a work related death or disease
- person who died wasn’t seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before death or after they died
If the coroner decides that the cause of death is clear, the doctor signs a medical certificate, you take the medical certificate to the registrar and the coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem isn’t needed. You can then proceed to arrange the funeral.
However, the coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed which is usually done in a hospital or mortuary. You cannot stop this from happening but you do have a right to know when and where it will take place.
Once the post-mortem has taken place and the cuase of death is established, the body will be released for funeral.
The coroner will send a form (Pink Form - form 100B) to the registrar stating the cause of death along with a Certificate of Coroner (form Cremation 6) if the body is to be cremated.
Holding an Inquest
The coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown, or if the person died a violent or unnatural death or in prison or police custody.
The death can’t be registered until after the inquest, but the coroner can give you an interim death certificate to prove the person is dead. You can use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate.
When the inquest is over, the coroner will send a form (Pink Form - form 100B) to the registrar stating the cause of death along with a Certificate of Coroner (form Cremation 6) if the body is to be cremated.