Registering the death

When and where to register a death

By law, registering the death in England and Wales should take place within five days (unless by prior arrangement with the registrar). It is advisable to go to the registration office in the area in which the person died, as you will receive the documents you need on the day. If you use a different register office, it will take longer to get the documents you need which could delay the funeral arrangements.

Registering the death will involve some simple questions and the process normally takes about 30 minutes at the registration office. It is likely that you will need to make an appointment in advance.

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Who can register a death

  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • An occupant of the house where the death occurred
  • An official from the hospital where the death occurred
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral directors

What the registrar will need to know

  • Date and place of death
  • The person’s full name (and maiden name, if applicable)
  • The person’s date and place of birth
  • Their occupation
  • Their last address
  • Whether they were in receipt of a State Pension or other benefits
  • Full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving or late spouse or civil partner

Documents the Registrar will need

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death which will have been signed by a doctor or coroner

And if available, but not essential for registration:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable).
  • Council tax bill
  • Driving licence
  • NHS medical card
  • Passport
  • Proof of your address (e.g. a utility bill)

Documents you will receive from the Registrar:

  • Certificate for Burial or Cremation (green form) – giving permission for a burial or cremation to take place.
  • A copy of the Death Certificate (certified copy of an entry)- extra certified copies (we suggest 5-7) can be obtained for a small charge. These may be needed for legal or financial purposes when administering the deceased’s affairs.
  • A certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8) – You may need this if the person was receiving a State Pension or benefits.

The ‘Tell Us Once’ Service

The Tell Us Once service (opens in new window) makes informing organisations and government departments of the death easier for you. You only need to provide the details of the deceased to the Department for Work and Pensions once and they will notify all other organisations who need to know.

When registering the death, the Registrar will inform you if this service is available to you and will then add the details to the Tell Us Once national database on your behalf. Once added, you will be given a reference number to be able to complete the process online or by phone.