Registering a death

Registering your loved one’s death is one of the first things you need to do after they have died. You can start planning their funeral beforehand, but you will not be able to actually hold it until you have registered their death. Legally, you need to do this within five days (eight days in Scotland), and you’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.

Who should register the death?

When it comes to actually registering the death, there are a few rules. You can register your friend or relative’s death if you are a relative, were present at the death, or are the person making arrangements with the funeral directors.

Where do I register the death?

You can register a death at any register office, but if you use the one in the area where the person died you can be given the documents you’ll need on the day.

If you use a different register office, the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person died before they’re issued to you. This means you’ll usually wait a few days. You may need to make an appointment, so it is worth contacting the register office before you go to make sure.

Once you are there, registering your friend or relative’s death should take about 30 minutes. The Find a register office page on the GOV.UK website allows you to search for local register offices by area, postcode, street or town.

What do you need to take to the register office?

The one thing you absolutely must take with you is the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor). There are some other documents, belonging to the person who has died, that you should take with you if possible, but don’t worry if you don’t have or can’t find them:

  • birth certificate
  • council tax bill
  • driving licence
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • passport
  • proof of address (such as a utility bill).

You should also take supporting documents that show your own name and address (such as a utility bill), but you can still register a death without them.

What information will you need to tell the registrar?

There are a few things that you’ll need to tell the registrar during your appointment. It’s helpful to have this all with you before you go. You’ll have to tell them:

  • your friend or relative’s full name at the time of their death
  • any names previously used, for example their maiden name
  • their date and place of birth
  • their last address
  • their occupation
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving or late spouse or civil partner
  • whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits.

What documents will you be given?

When you register their death you’ll be given a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’). This gives permission for burial or an application for cremation.

You should take this to the funeral director so that the funeral can be held. You’ll also get a Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8). You should read the information on the certificate about the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Bereavement Service, and call them to tell them about your friend or relative’s death. They can do a benefits check of what you may be able to get, take your claim for certain benefits over the phone and tell you who to contact to claim other benefits.

If you call the DWP Bereavement Service on 0800 151 2012 to report the death you do not have to send in the BD8 form. You may need a few copies of the death certificate for when you let banks and other organisations now that they have died. It’s a good idea to ask for extra copies when you register their death (at a cost of £11 for each copy). If you need more at a later date there is also a charge of £11 per copy (prices correct as of May 2023).

There is a different process for getting death certificates in Scotland and getting death certificates in Northern Ireland.

Find your local register office

You can search for local register offices by area, postcode, street or town through the UK Government website.

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