presenting certificate

How to register a death in the UK

You can register a death by visiting your local register office. This usually needs to be done within five days of the death in England and Wales. It’s free to register a death, but there’s a fee of £11 for each copy of the death certificate.

Contents
  1. When do you need to register a death?
  2. Who can register a death?
  3. Why do I need to register a death?
  4. Where do you register a death?
  5. How to register a death
  6. How long does it take to register a death?
  7. How much does it cost to register a death?
  8. What do you need to do after registering a death?

When do you need to register a death?

If the person died in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you usually need to register the death within five days. When someone dies in Scotland, the death needs to be registered within eight days.

You may be given an extension if there's a coroner's inquest into the cause of death, but in most cases it's recommended to register the death as soon as possible.

Who can register a death?

Deaths in the UK are usually registered by someone related to the person who died. But if there are no relatives available, the death can also be registered by:

  • Someone who witnessed the death
  • An administrator from the hospital where they died
  • The person in charge of arranging the funeral

Why do I need to register a death?

You need to register a death in order to obtain a death certificate. This is an official document that details the time, date and cause of death. Once you have the death certificate, you’ll be able to go ahead and arrange the funeral, apply for probate and deal with the estate.

If you’re an executor or administrator of the estate, you’ll need to send the death certificate to any financial organisations your loved one held accounts with – including banks, building societies, pension providers and insurance companies.

Usually, these organisations will require an official copy of the death certificate, so it can be helpful to order several copies if you have a lot of organisations to deal with.

Where do you register a death?

To register a death in the UK, you usually need to visit a register office. If the person died in England or Wales, it's often best to go to the register office closest to their place of death, otherwise you may find that the paperwork is delayed a couple of days.

If the person died in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you're free to use any district or council registration office.

We've provided some links to help you find your local register office below:

Register offices deal with births, deaths and marriages all year round, so they're often very busy. It's therefore important to call ahead and arrange an appointment before going in to register the death.

How to register a death

In order to register a death, you first need the medical certificate of the person who died. This should have been provided by the GP or doctor at the hospital to confirm the cause of death.

When registering a death, you should also take your passport or driving licence with you as identification. This helps the register office confirm who you are in relation to the person who died.

When registering the death, you’ll be asked to provide a number details about the person who died, including:

  • Their full name at the time of their death
  • Their birth name or married names
  • Their date of birth
  • Their place of birth
  • Their last address
  • Their occupation or last occupation if retired
  • The full name of their spouse or civil partner
  • Details of a state pension or other state benefit they were receiving

It can therefore be helpful to round up some of their most important documents to take with you, such as:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • Proof of address, such as a bank statement or utility bill
  • Documents relating to a government pension or allowances

You’ll also need some of these documents if you need to apply for probate, so it’s worth keeping a record of everything as you go to make things easier later.

How long does it take to register a death?

It takes around half an hour to register a death in the UK, but you may need to wait a couple of days for an appointment. At the end of your appointment, you’ll be able to take the death certificate away with you, along with any other official copies you’ve ordered.

And remember, if the death took place in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you need to register the death within five days unless there is a coroner’s inquest into the death. If the person died in Scotland, then you should register the death within eight days.

How much does it cost to register a death?

There is no cost for registering a death, but you do need to pay for the death certificate. This costs £11 for each copy.

What do you need to do after registering a death?

Once you’ve registered the death and obtained a death certificate, there are three key things you need to do:

1. Arrange the funeral

If the person who died made a will, they may have left wishes regarding their funeral. If you would like to speak to a specialist about your options or need to use money from your loved one’s estate to pay for the funeral, please call our cremation team on 020 3966 3935.

2. Notify people and organisations about the death

It’s important to tell people about death as soon as you can, including the person’s employer, utility companies, financial organisations, and their mortgage provider or landlord. You can also use the government’s Tell Us Once service to notify several government departments at the same time, including the Passport Office, DVLA and HMRC.

3. Apply for probate

Before you can access the person’s estate and distribute assets to their beneficiaries, you may need to apply for probate. If you think you need probate, need help applying for a grant or want to speak to a specialist about your situation, please call our probate team on 020 3695 1713.

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