Registering a Death

When a person dies, the practicalities of organising a funeral are not always people’s main concern. Our instinct is often to spend time with and comfort our family, friends and loved ones, and writing out funeral checklists is not always your first priority.

Registering a Death

Whether by phone call or a visit in person, our staff at Harold Wood Funeral Services are available any time you need us. We can discuss everything you need to know about organising a funeral in an unobtrusive manner, helping to ease your burdens at this difficult time. As a family-run business of more than seven decades, we’re committed to providing warm and friendly service for you and your loved ones, giving you the time and space you need to grieve

Currently all death registration is being carried out by telephone where registrars will contact next of kin as recorded in gp or hospital files within a few days, if not subject to post mortem (in which case a coroner will update family).  Death certification is posted.

When thinking about how to organise a funeral, one of the first responsibilities is to register the death. While you do not need to have registered a death prior to contacting us about organising a funeral, all deaths in England and Wales must be registered within five days. This grace period is designed to give you some peace of mind and time to think before moving forward with any official arrangements. 

Normally the death registration must take place in the local authority area where the person died, or the process will take some days longer. To find out the location of the local Register Office, you can visit this government website.  An appointment is always needed which can usually be booked on-line, or by telephone if it is an emergency or you do not have access to the internet.


It will usually take about 45 minutes to register a death

If the person died in a house or hospital, the death can be registered by the following people:

  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • An occupant of the house
  • An official from the hospital
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

When registering a death, you’ll need to take the following documentation:

  • Medical Cause of Death Certificate (issued by a doctor)
  • Birth certificate (if available)
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if available)
  • NHS Medical Card (if available)

When registering a death, you will need to provide the following information:

  • 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
  • If the person was receiving a state pension or any other state benefit.

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

  • a certificate for burial or cremation (called the ‘green form’). This gives permission for the body to be buried, or to apply for the body to be cremated. In this case, a Certificate of Registration of Death (Form BD8) will be issued.
  • You’ll be able to buy one or more Certified Copies of Death Registration at this time, which are usually £11.00 each. These will be needed by an executor or administrator when sorting out the person’s affairs.
  • The registrar will also give you a booklet called “What to do after a death”, which will contain advice regarding wills, funerals and financial help. You can download a copy from
  • The register will also advise you on whether you need to inform multiple government departments and agencies about the person’s death.

Yes, possibly. Registering a death and contacting us to organise a funeral will differ slightly depending on where the person died and the circumstances under which they died:

If the death has occurred at home or in a residential home, and is expected

  • Under these circumstances, your first point of call should be to call your GP, who must be informed to arrange a visit immediately to confirm the death. During this time, please then telephone us to let us know that you have called the GP.
  • After the visit and with permission from a GP or registered nurses or paramedic 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. 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 the 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.
  • If you have chosen to arrange a cremation, the GP will have additional paperwork to complete. The Deceased’s GP may contact you again to confirm circumstances of the cause of death. You will also receive a second independent GP’s call to reiterate their findings.

If the death has occurred in a hospital 

  • If the death was expected, the next of kin or other responsible person will usually contact the Hospital Bereavement Office for the Medical Cause of Death Certificate.
  • This is taken to the local Registrar in the area where the death occurred, who will then issue copies of the Death Certificate (more details in further pages).
  • The hospital needs to know if a cremation will be taking place for particular forms to be filled in. We will usually be permitted to take the Deceased into our care after the death registration, during working hours.
  • If the death was not expected, a Coroner will be involved in the process. This will usually only take a few days, during which time the Coroner’s Officer keeps relatives informed of the situation.

If the death has occurred elsewhere

  • If the death has occurred outside of a hospital or home in the UK or abroad, contact us to receive advice on how to proceed with organising a funeral.   The Coroner will usually be involved.