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Registering a death in the UK is straightforward. But when you’re dealing with the death of a family member or friend it’s helpful to have all the info you need before you go to the register office. This will make things easier. Use our guide below to make sure you’re prepared before your appointment.

Who can register a death?

The death can be registered by:

  • A family member or relative of the person who died
  • Someone who was there at the time of death
  • A staff member from the hospital where the person died
  • The person responsible for arranging the funeral

How long do you have to register a death?

In England and Wales you have to register the death within 5 days. In Scotland you have 8 days to register the death. But if a coroner has to carry out an investigation to find out the cause of death you’ll be given an extension.

Where do you register a death?

You’ll need to contact the register office in the area where the person died. Find your local register office and call them to make an appointment. They’ll explain what you need to do and what you’ll need to bring with you to register the death.

What documents do you need to register a death?

Once you’ve made an appointment with the register office you’ll need to get the necessary documents ready. Without the right info at the appointment the registration could be delayed and you may have to book another slot.

Important: You must have a medical certificate of cause of death. You can’t register the death without it. The doctor may have sent it directly to the register office, or they may have given it to you. If they've given it to you, you must take it with you to register the death. Read our guide for more info about getting a medical certificate for cause of death.

Make sure you have the following documents ready as well (if relevant to the person who passed away):

  • The person’s birth certificate
  • Their driving licence
  • Their passport
  • A council tax bill from their most recent address
  • Their NHS card
  • Their marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
  • Proof of their address (a utility bill e.g. gas, electricity or internet bill)

Don’t worry if you can’t find all of the documents above or if they don’t all apply. And don’t let that stop you from making an appointment to register the death either. The above documents will make it easier for the registrar to get all the info they need but they’re not all essential.

It’s also a good idea to take your own passport or driving licence with you just in case the registrar asks for identification.

Pre-registering a death

Some register offices will ask you to complete a form to pre-register the death before your appointment. You can fill this form out at home. You'll need to make sure you have these documents to hand to help you fill out the form: the birth certificate of the person who has died, their driving licence, their passport, their NHS card, a council tax bill or a utility bill, their marriage or civil partnership certificate.

If you need to pre-register the death, the register office will tell you when you book your appointment. They'll also send you the form.

What info do you need to register a death?

The registrar will need the following details about the person who died:

  • Their full name
  • Any previous names (maiden name)
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Their last address
  • Their job
  • Details about their spouse or civil partner
  • If they got a state pension or any benefits from the government

These details can usually be noted down from the documents you’ve provided. But having them written down may help you stay on top of things too, especially if you need to organise the person’s affairs and contact banks and other organisations at a later date.

What do you get when you’ve registered the death?

Once the death is registered you’ll get:

  • A certificate of registration of death (form BD8): This form may need to be filled in if the person who died got a state pension or benefits from the government. You’ll get it with a pre-paid envelope so you know who to send it back to.
  • A certificate for burial or cremation (green form): This form means you have permission to apply for burial or cremation so you can start making funeral arrangements.

How much does it cost to register a death?

There’s no cost for registering a death in the UK. But you’ll need to pay for copies of the death certificate. Each copy costs £11. It’s sensible to get copies so that letting other organisations know about the person’s death is more straightforward.

How long does it take to register the death?

It will only take about half an hour. But make sure you book a slot as soon as you can because you may not be able to get an appointment for a couple of days. Check if your register office also offers the Tell Us Once service. This may take a bit longer. But it means that the registrar can help you contact several government organisations about the death of the person at once. That way you have more time to concentrate on saying goodbye to the person who died and making funeral arrangements.


Photo by Romain Dancre on Unsplash