How to register a death

When someone dies in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you must get a medical certificate from a doctor and register the death within five days or eight days if the death occurred in Scotland.

Registering a death usually takes around half an hour. You will then be given the documents you need to arrange the funeral.

To register a stillbirth, the time limit is usually within 42 days but this can vary depending on the circumstance. For confirmation, please contact your local register office. You can arrange a funeral for your baby. Who can register the death, and the documents you will need, depends on the circumstances of the death and if the person lived in England or Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. If the death has been reported to a coroner, you are unable to register the death until the coroner gives permission.

Click here for more information on when a death is reported to a coroner

More information on how to register a stillbirth

Information on how to register a death in Scotland

Information on how to register a death in Northern Ireland

You should register the death at the register office nearest to where the person has died. This will prevent any delays in paperwork and avoid any potential delay in arranging the funeral. There is no cost for registering a death; the only cost will be for any copies of the death certificates, if required.

Who can register?

If someone dies in a home or hospital, the death can be registered by any of the following:

  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • An occupant from the house
  • A hospital official
  • The person making arrangements with the funeral directors

If they die elsewhere, the people who can register the death are:

  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • The person who found the body
  • The person in charge of the body
  • The person making arrangements with the funeral directors

Funeral directors cannot register a death

Making an appointment at the register office

It's wise to call ahead to book an appointment to see the registrar. When you do, explain your relationship to the deceased and confirm that you will be able to register the death. Some registrars operate an emergency out of hour’s service for families who require an urgent burial. Your local council switchboard should be able to advise if this service is available.

What to take with you

Unless the coroner is involved, you should have been given a medical certificate of cause of death signed by the doctor. Take this with you, along with the deceased's:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • NHS medical card

What to tell the registrar

To complete the registration, the registrar will also need certain information from you. They will require the following information about the deceased:

  • Their full name (maiden name if applicable)
  • Date and place of death
  • Their last address
  • Their occupation
  • Details of any surviving spouse or civil partner
  • Whether they received any benefits, including state pension

Translation of the death certificate

To enable legal processes to begin, many people choose to have the death certificate translated at their own expense. Any translation must be ‘certified’ if it is to be legally admissible. Check before you agree to any translation that the completed work will be certified. It is important to ask the registrar for additional copies of the death certificate, especially if the deceased’s estate will have to go through probate. If a death occurred recently, you may be able to order copy certificates from the office where the death was registered for £4, otherwise certificates cost £10. However, the cost of a copy of a death certificate varies, depending on your local authority You can find your local authority here.

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