How to register a death

There are many things to organise when someone dies and it is easy to forget vital steps or become overwhelmed.

There are various administrative tasks that need to be undertaken and one of the most important ones is to obtain the death certificate.

The death certificate is an essential document as it enables other essential procedures to happen. 

When someone passes away, the doctor will issue a medical certificate stating the cause or causes of death, along with a notice setting out who is eligible to register the death with the local Registrar of Births and Deaths.

When to register the death

In England & Wales the death must be registered within five days and within eight days of the death in Scotland.

The medical certificate must be taken to the Registrar of Deaths, or written notice must be sent to the Registrar.

In England and Wales, the deceased’s medical card should be given to the Registrar as well. 


Who can register the death in England & Wales?

If the person died in a house or hospital (including a hospice), the death can be registered by:

  1. A relative who was present at the time of death
  2. A relative who had been visiting the person during the deceased’s last illness
  3. A relative living in the same local district
  4. A person who was present at the time of death
  5. Someone in authority in the building where the death occurred who was aware of the circumstances of the death; for example, the owner of a nursing home or the warden of sheltered accommodation
  6. Any resident of the building where the death occurred, if they were aware of the circumstances of the death
  7. The person who accepts responsibility for arranging the funeral

This person is called the informant.

If the person didn't die in a house or hospital, the death can be registered by:

  1. Any relative able to provide the information required by the Registrar (see below)
  2. Any person present at the time of death
  3. The person who found the body
  4. The person in charge of the body (the police if the body is unidentified)
  5. The person responsible for the funeral arrangements

Who can register the death in Scotland?

In Scotland, the death must be registered by:

  1. Any relative of the deceased
  2. Any person present at the death
  3. The executor or other legal representative of the deceased
  4. The occupier at the time of death of the premises where the death occurred
  5. Any other person who knows the particulars to be registered, if there is no person as above

What information do you need to give the Registrar about the person who has died?

The Registrar will ask for the following details about the deceased:

  • The date and place of death (the birth certificate should be produced, if available).
  • The full name of the deceased, including any maiden name.
  • The date and place of birth.
  • The occupation of the deceased.
  • The name, date of birth and occupation of the deceased’s spouse or civil partner (and in Scotland, former spouses), whether or not still living.
  • The deceased’s usual address (if the death was away from the normal home, then the normal home address should be given, rather than the address where the death occurred).
  • Whether the deceased received any state pension or allowance.
  • The date of birth of any surviving spouse.
  • In Scotland, the full names and occupations of the parents of the deceased should also be provided (if known).

What to do once the death has been registered

Once you have registered the death, you will be given a death certificate, which is a copy of the register entry.

In Scotland, you will also be given a certificate for the funeral director dealing with the funeral, a free abbreviated death certificate, and a Social Security notification of death form to assist in obtaining or adjusting benefits.

There is a small charge for each copy of the full death certificate, and it’s sensible to get three or four copies. 

The executors may need to send copies to the deceased’s bank, to the registrars of companies in which the deceased held shares, to insurance companies holding policies written in trust and, in England & Wales, to the Probate Registry.

Although you can have the death certificate returned to you once it has been inspected, it may be more convenient to circulate several copies at once.

Remember that a while after the death, the cost of a copy of the death certificate can increase. The period varies depending on the register office, so it’s worth checking if it’s likely that you will need further copies.


Other information


External links


Published on: May 22, 2012

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