Notify & register the death

Notify the death

You need to notify the doctor to verify the death.

If you are in hospital or a hospice the staff will be able to help with information and advice.

If you are at home, the GP should be informed about the death within a few hours. The GP or community nurse will come to verify the death.  The GP will complete a medical certificate of the cause of death.  You will also be given a document called 'Notice to informant' which explains how to register a death.  If you have called an out of hours doctor, the documents needed will be completed by the regular GP as soon as possible.

The doctor who verifies the death will inform the coroner if it is thought that a post-mortem examination is needed in order to establish the cause of death. A post-mortem is not usually needed, especially in the case of an expected death.

In the case of a post mortem, the body will be removed to a hospital mortuary.The medical certificate of the cause of death will be issued after the post-mortem has taken place.

Registration of death

The medical certificate of the cause of death is needed to register the death at the local registrar’s office within 5 days of the death.  This can be delayed for up to another 9 days, if the registrar is told that a medical certificate of the cause of death has been issued. A death that has been reported to the coroner can not be registered until the coroner's investigations have been completed.

Some registry offices have an appointment system. Any person can act as the informant and take the certificate to the office, it does not need to be a relative. The registrar will issue the death certificate.

It is a criminal offence not to register a death.

TIP: It may be useful to have several copies of the death certificate as an original copy will often be needed by institutions to update their records.  Having several copies will speed up the process by being able to contact more than one institution at a time.  

For links to local register offices click here.


Additional information