How & when should I register a death?

The Current Restrictions JULY 2021:

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, register offices are not currently taking any bookings to register a death in person. Derby City Council, for example, is inviting people to complete their online form to request a telephone appointment or call 01332 641680. https://www.derby.gov.uk/community-and-living/deaths-funerals-cremations/deaths/registering-a-death/

For information about area-specific procedures during this time:

Burton/Staffordshire: https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Births-deaths-and-marriages/Registration-service-Coronavirus-update.aspx

Derbyshire (including South Derbyshire, Erewash, Amber Valley): https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/community/births-deaths-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/births-deaths-marriages-and-civil-partnerships.aspx

In normal times:

A death should be registered within five working days but registration can be delayed for another nine days if the registrar is told that a medical certificate has been issued.

You need to contact a register office to register the death. You can contact any register office but it will be quicker if you use the one in the area where the person died. https://www.gov.uk/register-offices or call us on 01332 345268 for the contact details of your nearest register office.

In order to register you must be in possession of a medical certificate that states the cause of death.

When someone dies at home or in a residential/nursing home, the doctor who was treating the deceased will issue a medical certificate stating the cause of death. This medical certificate will be available for the relatives to collect normally from the doctor’s surgery or the medical centre of the deceased person. The person who will be registering the death must take this certificate to the Registrar’s office within the district of death. If you are unsure at any stage of which office to take the certificate to, call one of our offices where a member of staff will be able to advise you.

If a death occurs in hospital, the ward staff will inform you which office will be dealing with the death certificate and their contact number to arrange collection.

Occasionally, if the death was sudden or the doctor treating the deceased is unavailable, it may not be possible for a medical certificate of cause of death to be issued. If this happens, the death will have to be reported to the coroner, which may lead to a delay in registering the death. If this happens, you will still be able to make some of the arrangements, but the more definite details such as the date of the funeral will have to be arranged once the death certificate has been issued.

Who can register a death?

The majority of deaths are registered by a relative of the deceased. The registrar will allow other people to register the death only if there were not relatives available and these are noted below:

If the death takes place in a house or nursing/residential home –

  • A relative of the deceased
  • Someone present at the death
  • The occupier of the house or hospital if he or she knew of the death
  • Another person living in the house if he or she knew of the death
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

Death occurring elsewhere –

  • A relative of the deceased
  • Someone present at the death
  • Someone who found the body
  • A person in charge of the body
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral director

The following list contains the information that must be given to the registrar for the registration:

  • Date and place of death
  • Name and surname of the deceased
  • Maiden surname, if the deceased had their name changed after marriage
  • Date and place of birth
  • Occupation
  • Name and occupation of partner, where the deceased was married or a widow/widower
  • Usual address
  • Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds
  • If the deceased was married, the date or birth of the surviving widow or widower
  • The deceased’s medical card, birth certificate and marriage certificate if available, should also be taken to the registrar.

It is extremely important that the information recorded in the death register is accurate. Mistakes are sometimes difficult to correct and it is the registering person’s responsibility to get them corrected. The person registering the death should check the information in the register very carefully before the entry is signed.

What certificates will be issued?

  • Death certificate – Registration is free. A certified copy of the entry in the Register of Deaths “a death certificate” can be obtained for a small fee (normally less than £10 each). Bear in mind, you may require one or more copies for private pension and financial matters. It can be worth checking before you register which organisations require an original copy of the death certificate and which will accept a photocopy, as this will give you an idea of how many you might need.
  • Certificate for burial or cremation – The registrar will issue a certificate for the burial or cremation of the body, which is normally passed to the funeral director by the relative who is making the arrangements. A funeral cannot proceed until this certificate is given to the burial authority or the crematorium. If there is a delay to the registration of the death, it is possible for a certificate for the burial of the deceased’s body to be issued before the registration provided the death does not need to be reported to the coroner. A certificate for the cremation cannot be issued before the registration of the death.
  • Certificate for applicable Social Security benefits which is a certificate for sending to the Department of Social Security will also need to be issued by the registrar to the person registering the death or other applicant. The form serves a dual purpose; details of the deceased are given on one side and on the other side is a claim form for applicable benefits.
  • Tell us once is a service offered by Derbyshire Registry offices which enables you to tell on mass the DWP, State Pension, local council and passport office that someone has passed away. When you register the death you will usually receive the form from the Registrars. We have information sheets on hand to help you through the process.

We hope that this printable list will prepare you for the questions you will be asked when you speak to us. This list is intended as a guide only, and you can contact us at any stage for further advice and assistance.

Download Guide

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