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Organising a funeral part 2: How do I register a death in the UK?

someone opening old paperwork

When a person dies a doctor will complete a medical certificate showing the cause of death.

After the doctor has issued the 'Cause of Death', you must register the death within five days.  (8 days in Scotland). If you decide to use a funeral director, they will need a death to be registered before planning the funeral.

Make an appointment at the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, you will find the address of the nearest register office here Check the opening hours of the office you wish to go to, as some offices have appointment system.

The death should be registered by one of the following (in order of priority):-

  • A relative who was present at the death

  • A relative present during the person's last illness

  • A relative living in the district where the death took place

  • Anyone else present at the death

  • An owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of the death

  • The person arranging the funeral (but not the funeral director).

You cannot delegate responsibility for registering the death to anyone else.

What documents will the registrar want?

Alongside the medical certificate (above) take with you the following information about the person who has died, if you have it available:

  • Birth certificate, marriage / civil partnership certificate and passport.

  • National Health Service number or their NHS medical card.

  • Proof of address (i.e utility bill) date and place of death.

  • The person's full name (including any previous name including maiden name), date and place of birth.

  • Their last address and the person's occupation.

  • The full name, birth date and occupation of a surviving/ late spouse / civil partner.

  • Whether the person was receiving a pension or other social security benefits.

Will the registrar need my information?

Yes, you should take supporting documents that show your name and address (i.e. a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them.

What will happen next?

The informant will then sign the register, certifying that the information that has  been given to the registrar is correct

The Registrar will give you:

  • A green certificate for burial or cremation. This certificate is commonly known as the 'green form'.  Give this to your funeral director. The form is free however you’ll need to pay for copies of the death certificate. It’s a good idea to pay for three official copies, as  banks, pensions claims or insurance policies may want a copy. In England the cost of each copy on the day is usually £4, but afterwards they can increase substantially depending on the council and urgency.

  • A white certificate of registration of death. This certificate is commonly known as the 'white form'. This is for Social Security purposes only.

This article was originally posted by Quaker Social Action

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