Registering a Death

Since 1st July 1837, all deaths have to be registered with the Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths, when it was recognised that there needed to be an system to help with taxation and voting.

In today’s society the Registrars and the obligations of registering a death are part of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and The Registration of Births, Deaths an Marriages Regulations 1963. It is a statutory requirement to register all births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths. All the resultant registers then become part of the National Archive of births marriages and deaths, which is maintained by the General Register Office (part of the Passport Office).

Registering Births Marriages and Deaths provide people with a legal identity and protect a persons civil rights. A birth certificate is a persons first legal document recording their identity and the requirement of a death certificate with a cause of death, not only protects the rights of the person who has died but it protects the legal rights of the surviving relatives.

The obligation to register the death falls to the relatives of the deceased or the executor of the deceased Will. This is not something that the funeral director can do.

When a death is not reported to the Coroner the death must be reported within a prescribed time frame. In England and Wales deaths must be registered within 5 days (counting weekend days) within the same district that the person has died and in Scotland deaths must be registered with 8 days and can be in any district within Scotland.

Ideally a relative should register the death. However, if a relative cannot register the death it is permitted for someone else to register, as long as:

  • the person was present at the time of death
  • a person who lived at the same address who is aware of the death
  • the person is the one taking responsibility for arranging the funeral (not the funeral director)

To register the a death you must have a medical certificate stating the cause of death. This will be given at the time of death by a Doctor.

Other documents relating to the person who has died will assist the registrar and should be taken if possible:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate
  • Passport
  • Driving License
  • Council Tax Document
  • Proof of Address


The registrar may ask the person who is registering the death for identification, such as a driving license.

The person registering the death will need to know the following information about the person who has died:

  • the persons full name (and any previous names)
  • the persons date of birth
  • the place that the person was born
  • the persons full address
  • the persons occupation
  • the name, date of birth and occupation of a persons spouse (if applicable)
  • if the person was in receipt of a state pension or any benefits

The Registrar will issue:

  • Green Form which gives the authorisation for Burial or Cremation to take place. This form is needed to release the body from the mortuary if the person who has died is in the hospital, so the funeral director will ask for this form.
  • Certificate of Notification (BD8 Form in England and Wales or 36/BD8 Form in Northern Ireland or Form 3344SI in Scotland) this form is used if the deceased was in receipt of a state pension or any benefits (However the ‘Tell us Once‘ service is available in a number of areas and the registrar will let you know if the service is in your area)
  • Death Certificate additional copies will be available, often more than one copy is needed but how many would depend on the size of the persons estate and a registrar would be able to offer further advice. There is normally a charge for copies of death certificates but purchasing them at the time of registering is normally cheaper.

More information can be found about how to register a death here.