One of the first things that needs to happen when someone has died is for the death to be registered. This process will depend on the location and nature of the death.
The death must be registered by the registrar:
- Within five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Within eight days in Scotland
In England and Wales, it is possible to delay registration for a further nine days provided that the registrar receives written confirmation that the medical cause of death certificate has been signed by a doctor.
Delays due to the involvement of the coroner are not usually counted within these time frames.
The registration should be made in the district in which the death occurred in England unless the death has occurred in a county that has adopted a county-wide system.
If you are completely unable to attend a registrar in the district (or county) in England in which the death occurred you can attend elsewhere and carry out a declaration of the death. You should be aware that issue of the Death Certificate will be delayed as documents must be sent between the registrars in the post. In Scotland the registration may be done at any Scottish registration office.
Most registrars operate appointment systems. Some operate an emergency out of office hours service for families needing urgent burial for any reason. Telephone your main council switchboard to find out if there is an out of hours service.
In general, registration of the death should be carried out before the funeral can go ahead. Exceptions are deaths subject to investigation by the coroner or procurator fiscal. Permission for burial may also be issued before full registration in certain circumstances but this is not possible if cremation is planned.