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Registering a death

When someone dies, you need to register the death, notify government departments and council services and obtain various certificates.

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Download Registering a death leaflet

A death must be registered by the Registrar of Deaths for the district in which the death occurred. Cornwall is one registration district with 12 Registration Offices and you can register the death at any one of these 12 offices. If you are unsure in which area the death occurred, please telephone the Information Service on 0300 1234 181 between the hours of 8:30am - 6:00pm Monday to Friday. A death should be registered within 5 days, unless the Registrar says that this period may be extended.

If it is not convenient for you to visit one of these 12 offices for the district in which the death occurred, you can go to any Registration Office in England and Wales to make a declaration of the particulars required for the registration. In that case any forms and death certificates you require will be sent by post.

To prevent unnecessary waiting the 12 Registration Offices operate appointment systems. Please telephone to make an appointment as soon as the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death has been issued to you by the doctor of the deceased, who may be either the General Practitioner or a hospital doctor. Please take this certificate with you when you attend the Registration Office. For contact details and opening hours please see our Registration Offices page.

The Registrar may ask you to bring certain additional documents with you to help during the registration such as the deceased's birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate, as appropriate, their medical card and, if they were in receipt of a pension from public funds, in addition to the regular state pension, that pension reference number.

In certain circumstances the death will have to be referred to the Coroner by the doctor or by the Registrar. (See 'When sudden death occurs')The Coroner may do one of three things:

1. He or she (or "the Coroner") may decide no action is necessary and inform the Registrar accordingly. The Registrar can register the death once the Coroner has faxed the necessary paperwork through, or it has been received in the post.

2. He or she (or "the Coroner") may decide to hold a post-mortem examination, in which case a  Form 100 will be issued by the Coroner to be used instead of the medical certificate. This is usually sent to the Registrar directly from the Coroner's Office, but is sometimes delivered by the Funeral Director or faxed through.

3.  He or she (or "the Coroner") may decide to hold an inquest. The Coroner's Officer or Registrar will advise you what to do in these circumstances.

It is preferred that a relative of the deceased registers the death. If there are no relatives then it is possible for other persons to register. Such persons may be someone present at the death, a senior administrator of the establishment in which the death occurred, or the person instructing the funeral director.

You should allow approximately 30 minutes for the registration and 40 minutes should you wish to take up the Tell Us Once service. However in some circumstances the Registrar may have to refer to the Coroner which may result in further time being necessary.

The registrar will require the following information:

  • The date and place of death.
  • The full name of the deceased (and maiden name where appropriate).
  • The date and place of birth of the deceased.
  • The deceased's occupation and the full names and occupation of her husband if she was a married woman or a widow or of her Civil Partner or surviving Civil Partner.
  • The deceased's usual address.
  • Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension from public funds.
  • If the deceased was married, or a Civil Partner, the date of birth of the spouse or surviving Civil Partner.
  • Either the National Health Service number of the deceased if known, or the medical card itself if available, should be handed to the Registrar. Please do not delay registration if the medical card is not available.
  • The deceased's occupation and the full names and occupation of his wife if he was a married man or widower or of his Civil Partner or surviving Civil Partner.
  • To use the Tell Us Once service please provide information or documentation so that the Registrar can cancel any benefits that the deceased may have been in receipt of e.g state pension etc.  To cancel benefits we will need their National Insurance Number.
  • Whether the deceased had a Passport, Driving Licence or Blue Badge.

When someone has died, we can help you tell the people who need to know - Tell Us Once.

To make things easier for you, when you register a death in Cornwall, you can choose to let us inform local council services and government departments including the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, Identity and Passport Service, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Ministry of Defence, Service Personal and Veterans Agency.

To use the service

  1. In person – Ring 0300 1234 181, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 6.00pm for advice to make an appointment to register the death at any of our 12 registration offices. You will be given details about how Tell Us Once works and what you need to bring to the registration appointment.
  2. By telephone – If you have already registered the death, you can access Tell Us Once by ringing the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 085 7308. The lines are open Monday to Friday between 8.00am and 8.00pm. This number is free to call from a BT landline, but other providers, including mobile phone providers, may charge you.
  3. By textphone or minicom – If you are a textphone or minicom user, you can contact us using Text Relay by dialling 18001 before the number you require.

To use Tell Us Once, when you attend your registration appointment please bring the following information about the person who has died:

  • Their National Insurance number and date of birth
  • Details of any benefits or services they were receiving e.g. state pension, blue badge etc
  • Their driving licence or driving licence number
  • Their passport or passport number and town/country of birth

We may also ask you for the contact details for:

  • Their next of kin
  • A surviving husband, wife or civil partner
  • The person dealing with their estate
  • Anyone who is receiving child benefit on their behalf

You must have the permission of the people listed above if you are going to provide us with information about them.

After the death has been registered, the Registrar will issue you with some forms. These are as follows:

  • A Certificate for Burial or Cremation
    (known as the Green Form) is for you to take to the funeral director so that the funeral can take place. In some circumstances this is issued by the Coroner.
  • A Certificate of Registration of Death 
    (Form BD8/344) is for Social Security purposes. Please read the back of the form in your own time. Please complete it and return it to your local Social Security Office.
  • Standard Death Certificates
    You may also need to purchase some death certificates. A death certificate is a certified copy of the entry in the death register. The Registrar will advise you as to the type and number of certificates which you may need. There is a small fee for death certificates.

These may be required by banks, building societies, solicitors or for pension claims and some insurance claims. You may wish to ask for several copies of the standard death certificate at the time of registration as the price increases if you need one at a later date.

What to do after a death in England or Wales (produced by Jobcentre Plus, part of the Department for Work and Pensions v1.1 January 2009)

Leaflets relating to benefits are also available from the Registrar. If you have any questions which are not answered in this leaflet, the Registrar will be pleased to help you.

Please telephone the Information Service on 0300 1234 181 between the hours of 8:30am - 6:00pm Monday to Friday for advice to make an appointment to register a death.

For contact details and opening hours please see our Registration Offices page.

Registration Service

0300 1234 181