Registering a death
At this distressing time we aim to guide you as easily as possible through the process of registering a death by answering the following frequently asked questions.
When you attend at a register office the registrar will see you in private to ask details about the person who has died. It is very important that the information registered is accurate because the register entry is a legal record which is difficult to correct at a later date. Please check all information carefully when the registrar requests you to do so.
When do I need to register a death?
The death must normally be registered within five days, unless the coroner is conducting an investigation when the timescale can be extended.
The registrar can also provide an additional service called tell us once which may be used immediately after the registration of the death. This service will inform other government departments and local council services who need to be told of the death.
Book an appointment to register a death
Please book an appointment before attending the office; you can use our online booking system quickly and easily 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When booking, you can say if you would like to make use of the tell us once service.
Where do I register a death?
In England and Wales the death must be registered at the register office in the area where the death occurred.
- If the person died in North Yorkshire you can register the death, by appointment, at any registration office in the county. You will receive certificates and relevant paperwork immediately.
- If the death occurred outside North Yorkshire e.g. in the cities of York or Leeds you can attend any register office in North Yorkshire to give us the details for the register entry but we will then have to post this information to the register office in the area where the death occurred. This will cause a short delay in getting your certificates and relevant paperwork.
Alternatively you can travel to the register office in the area where the death occurred to register the death in person. In this case you would need to contact the other register office direct.
Who can register?
There are only certain people allowed by law to register a death. These include:
- A relative;
- Someone who was present at the death;
- Someone who lived in the house where the person died;
- Someone who is responsible for arranging the funeral (not the funeral director); or
- A responsible person from the hospital or nursing/residential home where the person died.
What to do if the death is referred to the coroner?
Many deaths are now referred to the coroner. In these cases the death cannot be registered until the coroner agrees.
- If there is no inquest: the coroner will send a form to the registrar informing them that the death can now be registered. You should be told by the coroner's office whether or not a medical certificate of cause of death is also needed from the doctor. You can then make an appointment to register the death.
- If there is to be an inquest: before the inquest is held, the coroner may offer you an interim certificate (coroner's certificate of the fact of death) to assist you in dealing with the deceased's estate. You cannot register with this certificate but it can be used to do tell us once. In this instance please telephone us to book an appointment at the register office and please make clear it is a tell us once 20 minute appointment which is required.
After the inquest is concluded the coroner will send a form to the registrar. The registrar will then register the death based on the coroner's findings. This is done without you needing to visit the register office. However, you will need to contact the register office if you require copies of the death certificate.
How long will the appointment take?
The registration will take about 30 minutes.
What do I need to know about the person who has died?
- Date and place of death;
- Full name;
- Any other names they may have been known by e.g. maiden name or name changed by Deed Poll;
- Date and place (town and county) of birth;
- What their occupation was and whether they were retired;
- Their usual address;
- Full name and occupation of any spouse whether they are living or not; and
- NHS number if possible.
What information about myself do I have to give?
- Full name and address; and
- Relationship to the deceased or say why you are able to register.
What do I need to bring?
- Medical Certificate of Cause of Death issued by a doctor. If the death has been referred to the coroner, the coroner's office will advise you;
- Supporting documents to confirm details given about the person who has died e.g. birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport and medical card. If you cannot produce any or all of these documents it will not stop the registration going ahead but it is helpful to prevent errors in the registration;
- If the person who has died was in receipt of a government pension or allowance (not DWP) e.g. civil service, teacher or post office worker we would like to know a reference number if possible;
- If the person who has died had a North Yorkshire blue badge, North Yorkshire library card or North Yorkshire bus pass please bring them and we can return them for you;
- Supporting documents about yourself showing your name and address e.g. passport, driving licence or utility bill. If you cannot produce these documents it will not prevent the registration going ahead;
- Extra documents will be needed if you choose the tell us once service. Please see the tell us once page for further details;
- Method of payment for any certificates purchased. Details of fees can be found here; and
- An interpreter if applicable.
Will I get certificates?
- You will be given a free green form for the funeral director (unless the coroner has already issued one);
- You will be given a free white form for the Department of Work and Pensions (BD8);
- If the person who has died was receiving a pension from certain public funds e.g. civil service, teacher or post office the registrar will advise the relevant organisation direct; and
- You will be able to buy death certificates which will be needed to sort out the finances of the person who has died. You will need to show them to banks, building societies and insurance companies etc.
How can I pay?
All our offices accept payment by debit and credit card. If you wish to pay by cash, please bring the exact money as we may not be able to offer change.
Can I change details on the death certificate?
You can't change a death certificate once it's been issued, but you can apply to get a note added to the original entry in the death register. You can then get an updated certificate issued that shows this note of correction.
If incorrect information is shown on a death certificate you can apply for this to be corrected on production of evidence that shows why the information is incorrect. This can sometimes be a lengthy process which may delay sorting out the deceased's estate. Application forms to correct a death registration are available from the GOV.UK - correct a death registration web page.
What is probate and how can I apply?
'Probate' is a term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person's affairs (called 'administering the estate'). Further information on probate is available from the GOV.UK - wills, probate and inheritance web page.