Registering a death

You should register the death of your loved one within five days if the person died in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. In Scotland, this increases to eight days. You will need to contact your local Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths unless the coroner or procurator fiscal is involved. If you cannot register the death within this time period, phone the registrar to explain the reason for the delay.   

Find your local register office by clicking the relevant link below.

You can also call one of our experienced bereavement advisors for free*, on 0800 024 6121 or use our live chat function.

Registering a death takes around half an hour but can take longer. In most cases, you must make an appointment to register. However, during the Coronavirus outbreak, registrars are conducting appointments by telephone.

Should you need to hold an immediate funeral for faith reasons or other extenuating circumstances, simply explain this when you call the registrar to make the appointment. They will understand the urgency of your request.

In most cases, it should be a relative that registers the death. However, there are circumstances where others can do so. Please consult with the registrar when you make your appointment. 

If you have been given the medical certificate stating the cause of death, you must take this to the registration appointment. If the coroner or procurator fiscal has been involved in the death, you will be given information by their staff about when and how the death can be registered.

To register a death, you will need to know when and where the person who has died was born, if they have been married and to whom, their occupation as well as their husband / wife / civil partner’s occupation (if applicable) and their most recent address. You can take along relevant documents if you have them, but they are not essential. You may be also asked for proof of your own identity, so take a photographic form of ID.

Certificate for burial or cremation
You will receive a certificate for burial or cremation, commonly referred to as ‘the green form’. This is the legal permission for burial or cremation, but cemeteries and crematoria have additional forms to be completed – usually supplied by your funeral director if you are using one.

The green form is replaced by a document from the coroner if there is to be an inquest, or if the funeral will be a cremation following a coroner’s post-mortem examination.

Certified copies of the death certificate
More commonly referred to as ‘death certificates’, the Certified Copy of a Death Entry documents are required by banks and other organisations when they ask to see an ‘original’ death certificate. Most will take their own photocopy and return the ‘original’ to you. This takes time, so purchase several copies unless the estate – everything the person has left in terms of belongings, property, money – is extremely simple. This will allow you to deal with several organisations concurrently and will mitigate against slow postal services.

Registering the death is free, but you do have to pay for death certificates. If you order copies when you register the death, they will cost £11.00 in England and Wales, £8.00 in Northern Ireland and £10.00 in Scotland. If you order copies later in the process, then costs increase.  

If there is an inquest, the death will not be registered until after the inquest. Therefore, the coroner will issue you with an Interim Certificate which you can use instead of certified copies.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, certain registration forms may be slightly different than that described, but your registrar will advise you.

Notifying the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Form BD8 Registration or Notification of Death (form 3344SI in Scotland, form 36/BD8 in Northern Ireland) should be completed if the deceased was in receipt of a state pension or any other benefits. The death can be notified to the Pensions Service via telephone. In this instance, it may not be necessary for the BD8 form to be posted.

We advise phoning the DWP to notify them of the death as soon as you can – do not wait to get this form. This means all benefit / pension payments to the person who died will be stopped. If payments go through between the death and when notification occurs, these payments will have to be refunded to the DWP.

If the coroner is involved in the death, you can still obtain this form from the registrar, even if the death cannot be registered yet.

‘Tell Us Once’ service
Some registrars offer the Tell Us Once service, which means they will notify the DWP and other central and local government agencies of the death e.g. DVLA, the Passport Agency, Housing Office, Blue Badge scheme. If Tell Us Once is offered, you will probably not need to complete form BD8. If it is not offered, you will need to complete this form and the registrar may provide an envelope with the form inside.

What if the death occurs abroad?
You must register the death according to the regulations in the country where the person died. You will be given a local death certificate, which will be accepted in the UK. It may need to be a certified translation of the document if it is not in English. You can then also apply to register the death with the UK authorities.

Call us for free* on 0800 024 6121 and we can guide you through the process, or use our live chat function.

Alternatively, you can explore the Government guidance offered, here.