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How to register a death

How to register a death

This step-by-step guide sets out everything you need to know about registering a death in the UK.

How do I get a medical death certificate?

  • When someone dies in the hospice

The Hospiscare doctor will usually issue the next of kin with a medical certificate confirming the cause of death. Sometimes, the doctor will need to discuss the case with the coroner before giving you a certificate. The care team on the ward will explain why this is needed and let you know when you can come back to collect the certificate.

  • When someone dies at home

The person’s GP should be called as soon as possible. They will then usually issue the next of kin with a medical certificate confirming the cause of death. If the person did not have a GP or you cannot get in touch with the GP, please call the NHS on 111. If the case needs to be discussed with the coroner, you’ll be told why this is needed and when to expect the certificate.


Who can register a death in the UK?

The following people are legally allowed to register a death:

  • A relative (this is preferred)
  • A person present at the death
  • The person arranging the funeral (not the funeral director)


Where should I register the death?
You’ll need to take the medical certificate to a register office (the office of the Registrar for Births and Deaths) to legally register the death. The death should preferably be registered in the district where it took place and should be done within five days. If you use the office in the area where the person died, you will be given the documents you need by the registrar to arrange the funeral.

You can go to a different register office if you prefer. It just means you’ll need to wait a couple of days for the documents you need, rather than being given them on the day.

You will need to make an appointment to see the registrar.


How do I make an appointment with a register office?

Please telephone 0345 155 1002 to contact registrars for all areas in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. There are 10 registration offices in Devon and you can find addresses here.


What do I need to take to register a death?

You’ll need to take:

  • The medical certificate of cause of death (signed by a doctor)
  • Proof of your own identity, eg passport, council tax bill, driving licence etc

If you have them, it also helps to take the person’s:

  • NHS medical card
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Council tax bill
  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • Proof of address (eg utility bill)


What will the registrar want to know?

A registrar will talk to you in private about the person who has died. They’ll ask for:

  • The full name of the person who has died
  • Any previous names, eg a maiden name
  • Their occupation
  • The full name, date of birth and occupation of a spouse or civil partner (even if they are deceased)
  • Whether the deceased was receiving a state pension or other benefits

The registrar’s office also operates a ‘Tell Us Once’ service, which alerts other government agencies to a death. You can find out more about this on the Gov.UK website here.


What will the registrar give me?

The registrar will give you two certificates:

  • A Certificate for Burial or Cremation (green form). This is for your funeral director and allows the body to be released for burial or cremation.
  • A Certificate of Registration of Death (white form ‘BD8’). This is for the department of Health and Social Care. You should read the information on the back of the form and, if needed, fill it in and send it back in the pre-paid envelope.


Do I need copies of the death certificate?

The death certificate is a copy of the entry made by the registrar in the death register. You’ll need it to deal with money or property left by the person who has died and to deal with the Will. You will need to tell several organisations about the death so it might be worth getting several copies of the certificate as some companies will insist on seeing an original (not a photocopy).


Who do I need to contact when someone dies?

You may need to contact the following organisations, amongst others:

  • Bank/building society
  • Solicitor
  • Insurance company
  • Credit card companies
  • DVLC
  • Council offices
  • Utility companies
  • Devon County Council – Care Direct (0345 155 1007)
  • Inland Revenue
  • Royal Mail deliveries
  • Employer
  • Department of Work & Pensions
  • Your local pharmacy to return all unused medication
  • Millbrook Equipment (0300 124 4491) to arrange the return of any equipment


More information about registering a death in Devon can be found on the Devon County Council website.

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