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Registering a death

First Weeks

This article outlines what to expect when registering a death in England and Wales

When a person dies, a doctor will verify their death and issue a certificate stating the cause of death. Once you receive the death certificate, you must officially register the death with a registrar within 5 days, including weekends and bank holidays. If the death is referred to a coroner, you have to wait for their permission before registering the death, even if this takes longer than five days. If the person died abroad, the death must be registered in the country in which it happened and in the UK.

How to register a death

A registrar office is a government building where officials register births, marriages and deaths. In England and Wales, you can register a death at any registrar office, but it is usually more straight forward if you use the one closest to where the person died. You should receive the contact details of the nearest registrar office when you receive the death certificate from a GP or hospital doctor.

It’s best to contact the registrar office as soon as possible, as you will usually need to book an appointment to attend. You can book by telephone or complete an online form which you access through your local authority website. Appointments typically last for around 30 minutes.

Who can register a death?

A death should be registered by a relative, anyone present at the death, an owner or occupier of the building in which the death happened (hospital staff, for instance), or someone arranging the funeral who knew the person who died.

How much does it cost to register a death?

You do not have to pay to register a death, but you will need to pay for any additional copies of the death certificate required to settle the person’s affairs.

Important information

When you register a death, the registrar will give you two documents. The first is a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (known as the ‘green form’), which gives permission for burial, or for you to apply for a cremation. You give this form to your appointed funeral director so that they can legally plan the funeral. The second is the Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8), which you may need to fill in and return if the person was getting a State Pension or benefits (the form will come with a pre-paid return envelope). Your registrar should also give you a unique number to use for the Tell Us Once service that informs all government departments of the death. If you wish to hold a burial within 24 hours for cultural or religious reasons, contact your registrar for advice.

We recommend getting 8-10 copies of the death certificate, as you will need to provide evidence of the death to various companies and organisations, including banks and insurance companies. You also need a death certificate to appoint a Grant of Probate to execute the will.