Registering a Death

One of the first things that needs to happen when someone dies is for the death to be registered. This process will depend on the location and nature of the death. The death must be registered by the Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages within 5 days in England, Northern Ireland & Wales, and within 8 days in Scotland.

It may be possible in England & Wales, to dealy the registration for up to nine further days provided that the Registrar receives written confirmation that the medical cause of death certificate has been signed by a doctor.

Delays due to the involvement of the coroner or procurator fiscal are not counted within these time frames.

The registration should be made in the district in which the death occurred in England unless the death has occurred in a county that has adopted a county-wide system. If you cannot attend a registrar in the district (or county) in England in which the death occurred you can attend elsewhere and carry out a declaration of the death. You should be aware that issue of the Death Certificate will be delayed as documents must be sent between the registrars in the post. In Scotland the registration may be done at any Scottish registration office.

Most registrars operate appointment systems. Some operate an emergency out of office hours service for families needing immediate burial for reasons of faith. Telephone your main council switchboard to find out if there is an out of hours service. In general, registration of the death should take place before the funeral can go ahead. Exceptions are deaths subject to investigation by the coroner or procurator fiscal. Permission for burial may be issued before full registration in certain circumstances.

Who can register the death?

The person who registers the death is also known as the ‘the informant’. Only relatives or certain other individuals are qualified by law to register a death. This will also depend on where the death occurred.

When you telephone to make the appointment to register the death, give the name and relationship of the person who will be attending to do the registration and to check that they are best person available to do this.

If the death occurred inside a house or public building such as a hospital, the following people may register the death:
*  A relative
*  Someone who was present at the death
*  The occupier of the house or an official from the public building where the death occurrs, e.g. the hospital
*  The person making the arrangements with the funeral director

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