How Long Do I Have to Register a Death?
Date posted July 2022
When a loved one passes away, it’s an incredibly difficult time for family and friends. As well as grieving, there are some things that need to be done. As a result, it can be easy to lose track of the paperwork that needs to be filled in. Whilst registering a death in the UK can initially seem to be a confusing process, it’s actually relatively simple to understand. That said, taking too long to register a death can be a costly error.
If you want to know “how long do I have to register a death”, we’ve prepared this article to help you understand exactly how long you have, what documentation you’ll need, and what happens if you don’t meet the deadline. Read on to learn more.
How long do I have to register a death?
There is a time limit for registering a death in the UK. This varies depending on where you are in the UK. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you’ll need to register the death formally within 5 days. In Scotland, this is extended to 8 days. It’s important to be aware that this includes weekends and bank holidays.
However, if the coroner is involved, you’ll need to have their permission before you’re able to register the death. Although 5 days is the general limit, if the registrar is informed that a medical certificate has been issued, then registration can be pushed back a further 9 days.
What happens if I don’t meet the deadline?
It is a criminal offence to not register a death in the UK within the deadline. If you do not register a death, or withhold information to prevent a full registration, then you could potentially be fined up to £200. However, prosecutions generally only occur when there has been an intentional attempt at concealing a death.
Who can register a death?
As well as understanding “how long do I have to register a death?”, there are other important questions to consider. Having a clear understanding of the process of registering a death in the UK ensures that you can meet the deadline, avoiding costly fines.
A key consideration is who is qualified to register a death. Generally speaking, it would be best for a close family member, such as a spouse, child, sibling or parent to register the death. However, if this is not possible, other groups who are suitable include:
- Any relative
- A person who was present at the death
- An occupier or owner of the property where the death occurred (or in the case of a death in a public building, such as a hospital, an official from the building)
- The individual managing the funeral arrangements (but not the funeral director)
You should also be aware that you can’t ask someone to register the death on your behalf.
Where should I register a death in the UK?
The death should be registered at the closest registry office. It can also be registered at a registry office in another district or county, but this could delay the process, as documentation will need to be sent between the registrars via the post. In Scotland, you can register a death at any Scottish registry office.
Though some registrars have an out-of-hours service, in most cases, you’ll need to make an appointment. The appointment should usually take no longer than half an hour. You can bring someone with you for emotional support, if needed.
Registering a death in the UK – what do you need?
So, what documentation do you need to bring with you when registering a death in the UK? The most important document you’ll need is the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). This records details about the individual’s death, and needs to be viewed by the registrar before the death can be officially registered.
There are some other documents relating to the deceased person that would be useful to bring along. These include:
- A birth certificate
- NHS medical card
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Proof of address (such as a utility bill)
- Council tax bill
- Driver’s licence
If none of these are readily available to you, then don’t panic. They’re not mandatory. Generally speaking, you’ll just need to provide evidence of the details below:
- The full name of the deceased (including their maiden name)
- The date and place of their birth
- The date and place of their death
- Their last address
- Their occupation
- Their marital status
- If applicable, the full name, date of birth and occupation of their spouse or civil partner (living or deceased)
- Details of any benefits they were receiving, including any pensions
You should also inform the registrar of the name and address of the deceased person’s GP.
If the person who has died is a child, then you’ll need to provide information regarding the full names, dates of birth and occupations of their parents.
What will you receive from the registrar?
After registering a death in the UK, you’ll receive some documentation from the registrar. The exact documents you’ll get will vary depending on your location.
Certificate for Burial or Cremation
This free form needs to be given to the funeral director for the funeral to take place.
- In England and Wales, this is a green form, known as the Certificate for Burial or Cremation.
- In Scotland, this form is white and is referred to as the Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14).
- In Northern Ireland, the form is known as the GRO21 form.
Certificate for the Department of Work and Pensions
Also free, this form is used to inform the Department of Work and Pensions about the death so they can update their records. In some cases, you’ll receive an envelope to return the form.
- In England and Wales, this is known as a Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8).
- In Scotland, the form is referred to as a Registration or Notification of Death (form 334/SI).
- In Northern Ireland, the form is known as a Certificate of Registration of Death (form 36/BD8).
You can purchase certified copies of a death certificate. These can be used as evidence that a death has been registered, which can be helpful for settling the deceased person’s estate. When registering a death in the UK, the costs for these certified copies can vary.
Bristol funeral directors near you
Once you have the Certificate for Burial or Cremation, you can begin to prepare the funeral arrangements. At F.Woodruff, our Bristol funeral directors have over 75 years’ experience managing and co-ordinating funerals across the local area.