Early step you must take once someone has died to avoid committing an offence
When someone passes away there are many things that need to be done.
However, one crucial part of the process must be taken before you can move on to planning a funeral, arranging a burial or cremation, or dealing with the person’s will.
Their death needs to be officially registered before any other organising is set in motion.
The process is not a long one but needs to be done the right way as it is illegal not to register a death.
It can also only be done by certain people, and specific details are required to complete it.
Here is the key information you need to know about registering a death and how it needs to be done.
The general standard in law is that a death must be registered within five days of it occurring.
This includes weekends and bank holidays, so it must be done within this time frame regardless of the days. It’s a criminal offence not to register a death in time.
However, some exceptions do apply to the law – registration can be delayed for another nine days if the registrar is told that a medical certificate has been issued and if the death has been reported to the coroner. But you cannot register it until the coroner’s investigations are finished.
The only people who can report a death to a registrar are:
a relative who was present at the death
a relative present during the person’s last illness
a relative living in the district where the death took place
anyone else present at the death
an owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of the death
the person arranging the funeral (but not the funeral director)
The responsibility for registering a death cannot be delegated to anyone else who does not fit these criteria.
What information does the registrar need?
The process normally only takes around 30 minutes to complete and involves answering simple questions about the deceased.
Some specific information is needed, however, to ensure the registration is completed correctly.
You must take the medical certificate of death with you as the death cannot be registered until the registrar has seen this and, if possible, you should also take the person’s NHS medical card and birth and marriage certificates.
You will also need to present other information including:
the date and place of death
the full name of the person (including maiden name) and their last address
the person’s date and place of birth
the person’s job
the full name, date of birth and job of a living or dead spouse or civil partner
if the person was still married, the date of birth of their husband or wife
whether the person was receiving a pension or other social security benefits
Where should a registration take place?
The formal registration of death needs to take place at a register office, where you’ll be given the documents you need to complete.
The general advice is to go to a register office in the area where the person died, as this is where the death will need to be recorded.
Going to a different office could delay the process as documents will take longer to get hold of, which could mean putting funeral plans and other arrangements on hold.