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Death Certificates

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 22 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
Death death Certificate medical

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 Certificate

A 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 Death

Registering 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 Certificates

In 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 Certificate

If 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.

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Davidsdad - Your Question:
My son was killed in a motorcycle accident, we have a coroner's certificate of death, which has allowed a cremation, but cannot get a full death certificate until after a probable court case against the driver of the vehicle that killed him. This could take 18 months. He had his own house and car, but no partner or children. Can we, as parents, apply for probate with the coroner's certificate and settle his affairs before the court case is finished and the death registered?

Our Response:
Most organisations will accept a coroner's certificate of death if the death certificate is not available.
FacingBereavement - 26-Feb-18 @ 3:15 PM
My son was killed in a motorcycle accident, we have a coroner's certificate of death, which has allowed a cremation, but cannot get a full death certificate until after a probable court case against the driver of the vehicle that killed him. This could take 18 months. He had his own house and car, but no partner or children. Can we, as parents, apply for probate with the coroner's certificate and settle his affairs before the court case is finished and the death registered?
Davidsdad - 22-Feb-18 @ 8:27 PM
Hi, my father died on June 23rd. He was a permanent resident in south Africa. My step mother refused to have a funeral and had him cremated without a service on June 27th. She restricted the hospital from giving me or his family in the UK any information regarding his condition when he was on life support for 2 weeks before he died. I have not been able to grieve and have no closure I don't know if there is a will or not as she will not speak to us. I need to know how to obtain a copy of his death certificate and keep hitting brick walls. I don't even know the cause of death. Can anyone help please.
Meech - 9-Jul-17 @ 12:28 PM
My father passed away in Bulgaria in 2015.I was not allowed to view his body when his body came back to the uk and was prevented by his girlfriend from attending his funeral. I now want to find his death certificate as I feel that I never got to grieve and I want to know what he died from as I still do not know.I don't know where to start any advice would be welcome
Misslily - 16-Mar-17 @ 11:16 AM
@lee. Unfortunately this is something that really a solicitor should resolve. Was there a solicitor dealing with the Will? If there was no Will, the estate should have been dealt with via probate.
FacingBereavement - 12-Jun-15 @ 2:18 PM
hi my mother died on the 29th March 2015, before she died she asked the life insurance if they would release monies for her funeral to my eldest brother. He has then gone to the funeral directors and paid for it through my mums funeral plan, I have since learnt as there are5 siblings that my brother took all her paperwork, her car and offered my one of my brothers a £1000 as she had apparently £4000 in savings which I do not believe. I have approached my brother with my other siblings as we are distressed re my mothers ashes as her last wishes hae note been completed. My mother did have a boyfriend but they did not live together as man and wife they lived in the same building. he has apparently been bullied by my eldest brother and gave him all her paperwork, what can i do to get some order and to ensure that all mums wishes are completed. As far as I am aware my mum stated she had a will, but we have been advised that she did not, My brother as now taken all the monies and stillhas her ashes, This is causes my other brothers and myself a lot of stress and the 17 grandchildren who want a place for their grandma at the cemetary for them to go and see her etc....... My brother is a conman and has even tried to harrass me of which the police have intervened, My mother reisided in Manchester and I live in Yorkshire. Should I write a letter to her ex and ask him. or do I go to the police, I have no money asmy youngest daughter had surgery and contracted a hospital bug which meant me as a single mum caring for her. can you advise. Many thanks Ms L Jsmes
lee - 9-Jun-15 @ 3:25 PM
@rick. None of the items in the will or part of the estate should be distributed until probate has been granted. If the terms of the will state certain conditions for the funeral and these are not being upheld, you should speak to the solicitor for advice.
FacingBereavement - 22-Apr-15 @ 12:33 PM
if the executor of a will is one of 4 siblings and is blatently obstructive in giving or showing any bank details to the other siblings how long do they have to give him before they have to go the legal route. also the deceased wished to be buried with her wedding band but he has removed it for himself which was stated in the will and funeral package
rick - 20-Apr-15 @ 9:40 AM
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