How do I arrange a funeral?

When someone dies, your reaction is often unexpected. The death may or may not have been predicted, but the emotion of losing someone close is always different.  Staff at family-run and managed Harold Wood Funeral Services have spent seven decades gently guiding with the organisation of funerals at a time of need.

You can telephone us at any time, or visit us in person during working hours at one of our four offices (including on a Saturday morning). Please let us know which office you would prefer to use.

On first getting in touch with us there will be a few basic questions to go through. If the Deceased has died at home or in a residential home we can organise their quick transferral into our care. (If the death happened in a hospital this may take a few days.)  During office hours we can help you make detailed funeral plans, give you an accurate detailed estimate for services requested and produce paperwork for signing.

General Questions & Answers

In less common circumstances, when a death occurs and the causes are not easily established, a Coroner’s inquest may be necessary. The Coroner can open an inquest and adjourn to a later date. The Coroner will then release the Deceased to enable the funeral to take place.

Eg outside of home or hospital in the UK, or abroad. We can provide advice and help arrange the funeral.

Call your GP who must be informed to arrange a visit immediately to confirm death. The doctor may be a locum. Please then telephone us to let us know that you have called the GP.

After the visit and with the GP’s permission please then telephone us again to ask us to bring the Deceased into our care. The GP will request that you collect the Medical Cause of Death Certificate from the surgery, often the next working day, to take to the Register Office.

– If however death was not expected, or the GP had not seen the deceased in the last fourteen days, then the Deceased may be taken into the Coroner’s care to investigate the cause.

The doctor’s Medical Cause of Death Certificate has a number which must be quoted if you have to make an appointment to see the Registrar.

If you have chosen to arrange a cremation then the GP has additional paperwork to complete we request on your behalf. The Deceased’s GP may contact you again to confirm circumstances of the cause of death, and additionally you will receive a second independent GP’s call to confirm the same. This is nothing to worry about, just a legal necessity.

If death was expected, usually the next of kin or other responsible person will contact the Hospital Bereavement Office in working hours for the Medical Cause of Death Certificate.

This is taken to the local Registrar in the area where death occurred, who will then issue copies of Death Certificates (more details in further pages).

The hospital needs to know if a cremation will be taking place for particular forms to be filled in. Usually we are permitted to take the Deceased into our care after death registration, during working hours.

– If the death was not expected, there will be Coroner’s involvement. If a Coroner is involved it is often for only a few days, during which time the Coroner’s Officer keeps relatives informed of the situation.

The date of the funeral and other provisional arrangements can be made at your earliest convenience, before registration. They are often made by the next of kin, or an executor of a Will if one exists – but for the funeral to take place, registration and funeral paperwork has to be in place some days before the funeral. Usually the next of kin will register, or if not possible, somebody else by arrangement with the Registrar (see further on).

Registering a Death

Find out more about Death Registration at:

In England and Wales, you normally need to register the death within five days. It’s best to go to the register office in the area where the person died, as otherwise it may take longer to get the documents you need and this could delay the funeral. It will take about half an hour to register the death.

To find out which Register Office you need to go to, for the area in which the person died, please go to this Government website

Who can register a death

If the person died in a house or hospital, the death can be registered by a relative, or someone present at the death, or an occupant of the house, or an official from the hospital, or the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

Documents and information you will need

When registering a death, you’ll need to take the Medical Cause of Death Certificate (issued by a doctor) and, if available – the birth certificate, marriage or civil partnership certificate, NHS Medical Card.

Information Needed

You’ll need to tell the registrar the person’s full name at time of death, any names previously used, including maiden surname, the person’s date and place of birth (town and county if born in the UK and country if born abroad), their last address, their occupation, the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving spouse or civil partner and if they were getting a state pension or any other state benefit.

Documents and help you will receive

If a post-mortem is not being held, the registrar will give you:

  • a certificate for burial or cremation (called the ‘green form’), giving permission for the body to be buried, or to apply for the body to be cremated a Certificate of Registration of Death (Form BD8), issued for social security purposes if the person was on a state pension or benefits (read the information on the back, complete and return it, if it applies) You’ll be able to buy one or more Certified Copies of Death Registration at this time (usually £4 each). These will be needed by an executor or administrator when sorting out the person’s affairs. It is best to get more than you think you need at the time.

  • The Registrar will also give you a booklet called “What to do after a death”, with advice on wills, funerals and financial help. You can download a copy from

  • You may need to tell a number of different government departments and agencies about the death. The registrar can advise you on how to go about this. Some local authorities have started offering a new service to help you report a death, and the registrar will let you know if it’s available in your area.

Register Offices Nearby

Click below for contact information on register offices near you.