A death must be registered within 5 days.

When the death occurs in Hospital

The Hospital will contact the person named by the Deceased as their next of kin when they were first admitted to Hospital.

The Doctor who attended the deceased will provide the following:

  • Medical Certificate – this shows the cause of death;
  • A Formal Notice – this confirms the doctor has signed the medical certificate and how to get the death registered.

You must then make an appointment at the Register Office for the area where the Hospital is. James Cook University Hospital has an on-site registrar – 4 days a week.

When the death occurs elsewhere

You will need to contact the doctor who looked after the deceased during their final illness or who acted as their family doctor.

The doctor will provide:

  • Medical Certificate – this shows the cause of death;
  • A Formal Notice – this confirms the doctor has signed the medical certificate and how to get the death registered.

Who must Register a Death?

The following people can register a death:

  • A relative – usually the closest;
  • Someone present at the time of death;
  • Someone who is organising the funeral.

What documents do I need to produce to the Registrar?

At the appointment with the Registrar you will need to produce the following documents:

  • The Medical Certificate of the cause of death;
  • The deceased’s Birth Certificate;
  • The deceased’s NHS Medical Card;
  • The deceased’s Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate.

What information will I need to provide to the Registrar?

At the appointment with the Registrar you will need to provide the following information about the deceased:

  • Full name and address (and maiden name if applicable);
  • Date and place of birth;
  • Date and place of death;
  • Occupation;
  • If the deceased was a married woman or widow – the full name of her husband;
  • The date of birth of any surviving spouse or civil partner;
  • Whether the deceased was in receipt of any state pension or benefit;

You must read the draft Certificate carefully as it is difficult to correct mistakes at a later date. It is an offence to give false information about the Deceased.

You are required to sign, in ink, the register to confirm the information is correct.

What documents do I receive?

The Registrar will produce:

  • An official copy of the entry in the Register of Death known as a Death Certificate. Certified copies can be obtained for a prescribed fee. Currently this is £4. If you obtain copies at a later date this increases to £7. It is therefore cheaper and easier to obtain copies at the time of registration. Each pension provider, bank, building society and financial institution will require a certified copy of the Death Certificate;
  • A “Green Form” – Form 9 – a certificate for burial/cremation. This gives permission for burial/cremation to take place and needs to be given to the Funeral Director;
  • A Certificate of Registration of Death – Form BD8 known as a “White Form”. This needs to be completed and posted to the local Job Centre Plus or Social Security Office to claim any arrears of state pension or benefit.

What if the Death was sudden or unexpected?

If the death was sudden or unexpected or you discover a body, you must contact the following:

  • The deceased’s nearest relatives;
  • The deceased’s family doctor;
  • The Police, who can help contact the above;
  • The Coroner’s Office.

You should not touch the body or anything in the room or place where you found the body.

The Doctor may request permission to carry out a post-mortem examination of the body to find out the cause of death.

The Doctor may report a death to the Coroner if the death was:

  • Caused by an accident or injury;
  • Caused by an industrial disease or poisoning;
  • During an operation;
  • Before recovering from anaesthetic;
  • The cause of death was unknown;
  • Sudden or unexpected;
  • Caused by violence;
  • The Deceased did not visit their doctor during their final illness or had not seen their doctor for 14 days before death.

The death cannot be registered and the funeral cannot take place without authorisation from the Coroner.

The Coroner can order a post-mortem examination without permission from the relatives.

The Coroner holds an investigation into the death known as an “Inquest”. The inquest is not like a Court case, but the Coroner can call witnesses and ask questions to find out the facts surrounding a death. The inquest is not a vehicle for apportioning blame or responsibility for a death. The only purpose of an inquest is to determine why someone has died.

An interim Death Certificate can be issued before the Inquest, to confirm a person has died and to allow the funeral to take place. The Interim Death Certificate will also allow the administration of the estate to commence.

When the Inquest is concluded the Coroner will inform the Registrar of the cause of death and what information is to be shown on the Death Certificate.

Legal representation is not usually necessary at an Inquest unless evidence is given from the Police or a professional witness. You can discuss with us whether you need to have representation at the Inquest or whether you should ask for full disclosure of medical records beforehand.

What is the next step?

We strongly recommend a face-to-face meeting with one of our Specialist Solicitors who will be able to explain things in greater detail and advise you on what to do next. The initial meeting will be free of charge and will explain the assistance we can provide to administer the estate as effectively and efficiently as possible.


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