Registering the death in England and Wales

The procedure for registering a death differs slightly depending on whether the registration takes place in England and Wales or in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, the death needs to be registered with the registrar of births, deaths and marriages within five days. This is a legal obligation.

Who should register the death

There is a specified order of priority that determines who should register the death. The order is as follows:

1. A family member who was present at the death.

2. A family member who was present during the person’s last illness.

3. A family member living in the district where the death took place.

4. Any other person present at the death.

5. An owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of the death.

6. The person responsible for arranging the funeral (but not the funeral director).

Where to register the death

Registration should be made with the registrar’s office for the district in which the death happened. You can go to a different office if it is more convenient. However, the process will take a little longer as your information will need to be forwarded to the original district where the death occurred.

There the registrar will issue the death certificate and other paperwork which will then be sent to you.

To find the address of your local registrar of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales, please click here. The address will also be available in the phone book under registration of births, deaths and marriages.

The registration will take the form of a short interview with the registrar lasting about half an hour. You should check when the registrar is going to be available.

Some registrars’ offices have an appointment booking system.

Documents required by the registrar

The registrar will require the following documents:

1. The medical certificate.

2. Birth certificate.

3. Marriage certificate (if applicable).

4. National health service number and medical card. It is essential that you take the medical certificate with you to the interview.

Don’t worry if you are unable to locate the documents in (2), (3) and (4) above. Take along those documents that you have as the registrar can still proceed to register the death.

Details required by the registrar

The registrar will also require the following details:

1. Full name of the deceased (including the maiden name of a married woman).

2. Full address.

3. Date and place of birth.

4. Date and place of death.

5. Recent occupation (if any).

6. Full name and occupation of the spouse, where the deceased was married or widowed. If the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving spouse.

7. Notification of any public funds the person received such as a state pension.

After you have given the registrar all the necessary information, you will be asked to sign the register.

Death certificate

The registrar will then issue one certified copy of the entry of death in the register (also known as the death certificate).

As a number of legal and financial organisations demand sight of this document, you should obtain for a small charge at least six additional certified copies.

Order for burial or cremation

The registrar will give you a green certificate which is the order for burial or cremation. This certificate should be given to the funeral director as the arrangements for the funeral cannot proceed without it.

Social security certificate

You will also receive a white certificate (form BD8) which you should complete and send to the deceased’s local benefits office where the Department for Work and Pensions (formerly the Department of Social Security) can work out the position regarding any state pension or other benefits.

Further information

For further information from the government on registering a death in England and Wales, please click here.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.