Death Certificates

A death certificate is an official document that serves as proof of a person's death. It contains important information about the deceased individual.

Death Certificates

Once you have the medical certificate from a doctor or other paperwork from a Coroner (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland), you are then able to proceed with obtaining a death certificate and organise the funeral.

Obtaining a death certificate in person at a registry office is one of the first and most important actions you can carry out. A death should be registered within five days** (eight days in Scotland) at a registry office local to the deceased. The five or eight days include weekends and bank holidays. You will receive a certificate and a green form for burial or cremation. This form is handed into the cemetery or crematorium office before or at the funeral.

Why is a death certificate required?

A death certificate is an official document that serves as proof of a person’s death. It contains important information about the deceased individual, such as their name, date of birth, date of death, cause of death, and location of death.

There are various reasons why a death certificate is required. Firstly, it provides legal proof of death, which is necessary for settling the deceased’s estate, claiming life insurance, and other financial matters. Secondly, it helps to track mortality statistics, which can inform public health policies and initiatives. It also serves as a vital record that can be used for genealogical research and family history.

A death certificate is an essential document that provides important information about a person’s passing and plays an important role in legal, financial, and administrative matters:

What is on a death certificate?

  • The full name of the deceased person
  • The date and place of death, including the time of death if known
  • The cause of death, usually determined by a doctor or coroner
  • The deceased person’s date and place of birth
  • The deceased person’s occupation and usual address
  • The name and address of the person who registered the death
  • The date and place of the registration of the death
  • The signature, name, and position of the registrar who registered the death.
  • The deceased person’s marital status and the name of their spouse (if applicable)
  • Any other information that may be relevant, i.e. nationality or religion

Application links for a copy of a death certificate online are below – commonly searched as “death certificate order”.

England & Wales


Northern Ireland

Registry office application for a death certificate

It is best to telephone to inquire what paperwork you will need to bring. Although you will generally need to bring the following documents to provide evidence of the deceased:

  • Occupation
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Address

If the deceased is a female who was married you will also have to provide her husband (or late husband) name and occupation.

You will also need to provide evidence of your name and address as the person who is registering the death.

The Government operate a Tell Us Once service which may save you time in submitting various information.

You can find your local registry office by following the links:

England & Wales


Northern Ireland

Extra copies of the death certificate may be needed to supply to organisations such as below:

  • Banks and building societies
  • Solicitors
  • Pensions administrators
  • Will executors or estate administrators
  • Utility companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Local authority

Coroner’s office

A coroner’s office is responsible for investigating deaths that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances. The specific duties of a coroner’s office can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally include the following:

  • Determining the cause and manner of death: The coroner’s office investigates the circumstances surrounding a person’s death, including any injuries or other evidence, in order to determine the cause and manner of death.
  • Identifying the deceased: The coroner’s office works to identify the deceased, sometimes using fingerprints, dental records, or DNA testing.
  • Notifying next of kin: The coroner’s office is responsible for notifying the deceased’s next of kin and providing information about the death.
  • Collecting evidence: The coroner’s office collects and preserves any evidence related to the death, including medical records, witness statements, and physical evidence.
  • Testifying in court: The coroner or a member of their staff may be called to testify in court about their investigation and findings related to the death.

Overall, the role of the coroner’s office is to provide information to help determine the cause and manner of death and to ensure that justice is served in cases where foul play is suspected.

Death certificates from the coroner

If your local coroner’s office is involved in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the coroner’s document for burial or cremation is called a “Coroner’s Order for Burial” or “Coroner’s Order for Cremation.” In Scotland, the document is called a “Procurator Fiscal’s Burial Order” or “Procurator Fiscal’s Cremation Order”. This document is issued to the funeral director handling the funeral arrangements and permits them to proceed with the burial or cremation.

If a post-mortem examination is required, the coroner may issue an interim certificate, also known as an “Interim Death Certificate”, which is free of cost. This certificate allows the family to proceed with funeral arrangements and other administrative matters, such as applying for probate. However, the full death certificate will not be released until the coroner’s inquiry has ended.

Once the coroner’s inquiry has finished, the next of kin can register the death to obtain the full death certificate, which provides information about the cause of death and other relevant details.

In England, there is a charge for a doctor’s signature on the medical certificate.

In Scotland, there is no charge for the two doctors’ signatures on the certificate Form 5.

In Northern Ireland, there is no charge for one doctor’s signature on Form B.

There is no charge in Wales, instead, a certificate known as Form E is issued by a Medical Referee.

However, in Wales, there are certain circumstances where a doctor’s signature on a medical certificate may be required, and payable. For example, if the death occurred outside of Wales or if the cause of death is uncertain. A doctor’s signature may be necessary to confirm the cause of death.

It’s best to check with the undertaker or local registry office. Doctor’s fees are not required to get a medical certificate for burial.

Ensure that you follow the law and obtain the certificate within the time frame of five days** for England and eight days for Scotland.

For further help following a bereavement visit Support with Bereavement for advice and links to leading organisations.

**Different times for registering the death if any below apply.


A coroner is involved

The death was abroad

For further helpful information covering different aspects of funerals from poems, flowers, bereavement gift ideas, what to wear at a funeral, low-cost headstones and much more, visit the Save Funeral Costs™ blog.

SW Barratt
Founder: SW Barratt

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