After someone dies you will need to register the death. The register is the formal record that someone has died. You will need to do this within five days in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, or eight days in Scotland.
A close relative usually registers the death, but if the person who died doesn’t have any relatives it can be someone who lived at the same address, or someone who was with the person when they died.
You will need to register the death before you can arrange a funeral date.
If a person died abroad, has been missing for a long time, or if a coroner is investigating the death there may be a different procedure to follow, and it may take longer. You can find out more at www.gov.uk/register-a-death
Note that during the coronavirus pandemic there has been some disruption to registration services. Contact your local register office to check if they are offering appointments to register deaths in person.
Where to go
To register the death, you will need to make an appointment with the Register Office for the area where the person died. The GP or hospital may give you the details for this, or you can look on the government website to find it.
Call in advance to make an appointment.
What to take with you
You will need to take the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Contact the Doctor (GP) or the hospital for this if you don’t already have it.
You will also need some personal information and details about the person who died, and it may help to bring other documents. You can find a list of what you will need by following the steps at www.gov.uk/register-a-death.
The registrar will be able to tell you what to do if there is information you can’t find.
What will happen at the appointment?
The appointment will take about half an hour. The Registrar will ask you questions about the person and record the details.
You will be given the paperwork you need to move ahead with the funeral and other administrative tasks. You will be given a copy of the death certificate.
You can buy extra copies of the death certificates. It can be a good idea to have extra copies as you will need them for tasks such as closing bank accounts and settling any inheritance. But there will be a chance to buy extra copies later.
You may asked if you want to register for the Government’s Tell us Once service. This is a service which lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go, and can save a lot of time. If the service is available the registrar will give you the phone number and a reference number. You will have 84 days after registering the death to use the service.
How you might feel
Registering a death can be an emotional experience. It can make the person’s death feel more real and official. After someone dies it is also common to feel confused and find it hard to concentrate, which can make answering lots of questions a stressful experience.
It can help to ask a close friend or family member to come along for support. Don’t worry if you get upset or cry during the appointment. The registrar will know you are grieving and should try their best to help you.
If you need to talk about your experiences we are here to listen. Call our helpline on 0808 808 1677. Opening hours.
Cruse local services can also offer support over the phone and internet.