In the United Kingdom a medical certificate which states the cause of death is needed to register a death. Registering a death is necessary before approval can be granted for a burial or cremation. Thus obtaining a death certificate is the first step towards laying your loved one to rest.
Obtaining a Death CertificateA medical certificate stating the cause of death must be issued by a medical authority. Usually these certificates are written/issued by either the doctor who had been attending the deceased (usually within the previous two weeks), the hospital in which the deceased passed away, or from the coroner investigating the death. If a coroner is involved, there may be a delay in issuing a certificate as it may take a significant wait and/or examination before the coroner can close the deceased’s case. Unfortunately, remains can not be approved for burial or cremation until a death certificate has been issued, so the funeral will need to wait until this has happened.
Registering a DeathRegistering a death is a similar process in all areas of the UK. In England and Wales the death certificate, the deceased’s birth certificate, any marriage or civil partnership certificates and the deceased’s NHS card should be brought the local register office within five days of the death. In Scotland, the death certificate, the deceased’s birth and marriage certificate (if there is one), the deceased’s NHS card and any documents relating to the deceased’s government pension should be brought to the local registrar office within 8 days. In Northern Ireland, the death certificate should be brought to the District Registrar within 5 days. Upon completion of all necessary forms and proof of all required documents, relevant certificates will be issued allowing for a burial or cremation to commence.
Foreign Death CertificatesIn the event of a death in a foreign country, the death must be registered in the country where the death occurred. This means that a death certificate from that country will be issued and may need to be translated into English. The British Consulate should be able to assist citizens with registering a death and any translation or certification services that may be needed. It may also be possible for a death to be registered with the British Consulate and to have a UK death certificate issued as well. This means that a record would be made of the death in the General Registry Office (GRO) Overseas Registration section. To register a death with a British Consulate, the deceased’s full name, birth date, passport information (including when and where it was issued and the passport number), and information on next of kin will be needed. This option is not available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa or Zimbabwe.
Changing Details on a Death CertificateIf it is discovered at a later date that details given on a death certificate were incorrect, corrections may be allowed though documentary evidence will be to be produced to prove this. If at all possible, the individual who registered the death in the first instance should also apply for the corrections. These corrections should be arranged with the local register or registrar, though permission may need to be granted from a more central source within the GRO or Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. There will be a charge for corrected copies of a death certificate.
Death certificates are issued across the UK and kept as a matter of historical record. The authority which pronounces a death will likely have advice on death certificates and registering a death, and should be contacted for further information.