Registering the death

When someone dies their death has to be registered, with a registrar, at the nearest register office that deals with births, deaths and marriages.

Either a doctor or the hospital will give you a medical certificate of death and a 'Notice to the Informant'. These need to be taken to the register office within five days (eight days in Scotland) unless the death has been reported to the coroner.

This is a formal process and a legal requirement. It may feel daunting when you are shocked and distressed. Don't be afraid to ask a family member or friend to support you, even if it's just to help you with practical tasks like driving to the registrar’s office and waiting with you.

The registration can be made by:

  • a relative
  • someone who was present when the death happened
  • the person responsible for the place where the death happened (for example, the hospital)
  • another resident in the same place
  • the person who instructs the funeral director.

You will normally need to register the death in the district in which your child died. Some offices operate an appointment system. You can call them first to check. If there is no appointment system you can tell the registrar that you are registering the death of your child and you may be able to wait somewhere private.

The registrar will ask for:

  • A medical certificate of death, signed by the doctor
  • Details of your child’s place of birth
  • Details of your child’s address.

Having your child's birth certificate with you may be helpful but is not essential.

The registrar will give you two documents:

  • A Certificate for Burial and Cremation. This is sometimes called the green form, which you will need to give to your funeral director
  • A Certificate of Registration of Death. This is the death certificate.

Registration usually takes about half an hour.

The death certificate will be needed if you close or surrender a financial account held in your child's name. The registrar’s office can provide you with copies of the death certificate for a small charge if you need them for any reason.

Updated December 2016, next review due December 2017.