The first steps - registering a death

What must you do when someone dies?

When someone dies, you will need to inform a number of people and organisations and complete certain documents needed by law.

Continue reading

If you are a relative or friend you can do some of these things yourself. Others might need to be done by the Executor or administrator of the estate. There is plenty of support to help you through this difficult time.

  • Tell the family Doctor
  • Contact a funeral director, if you intend to use one
  • Obtain a medical certificate of cause of death signed by the doctor, or if the Coroner is involved take instructions from the coroner’s officers regarding registration of death
  • Register the death at the Register Office.

In most cases a medical certificate of cause of death will be issued to the next of kin so that you can make an appointment and register the death. Deaths must be registered within 5 days from when it occurred. This period can be extended in exceptional circumstances and if the Coroner is involved. If the death has been referred to the Coroner for further investigation then there is likely to be a delay before the death can be registered.

All deaths occurring in Cornwall must be registered in Cornwall but if it is difficult for you to get to an office in Cornwall, you may visit your local register office and declare the necessary information. In this case the registration by declaration may result in a delay in the issue of the documents needed for the funeral arrangements.

To make an appointment to register a death please contact The Customer Services Team on 0300 1234 181. Their hours are:

  • Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6.00pm
  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • An occupant of the nursing/residential home or a senior official from the hospital where the death took place
  • The person arranging the funeral
  • The person in charge of the body
  • The date and place of death
  • The full names of the deceased and any other names they have been known by, including the maiden surname
  • Their date and place of birth
  • Their last occupation ( if the deceased is married, widowed, or has a formal civil partnership, the full name and occupation of their spouse or civil partner).
  • Their usual address
  • The date of birth of the surviving spouse or civil partner
  • Details of any public sector pension, e.g. civil service, teacher or armed forces
  • Your relationship to the deceased e.g son, daughter, surviving civil partner
  • Your full name
  • Your usual address

When you attend to register a death you must take with you:

  • Medical certificate of cause of death signed by a Doctor, unless the Coroner is issuing the paperwork. In those circumstances the paperwork will already be at the Register Office.
  • The deceased birth certificate
  • The deceased marriage certificate/ civil partnership certificate
  • NHS medical card
When someone has diedDocument to be issuedYou will get this from the following

The death is not referred to the Coroner

Medical Certificate


A baby is stillborn

Medical Certificate of stillbirth

Doctor or Midwife

The death is referred to a Coroner, but there is no Inquest and no postmortem

Notification by the Coroner.  This form is sent to the Register Office but a medical certificate will also be issued

Coroner (the Coroner sends this direct to the Registrar).  The medical certificate of cause of death is normally given to the informant by the Doctor or Bereavement Office

The death is referred for further examination and a post mortem is held

Notification by the Coroner (pink form 100B)

Coroner (the Coroner sends this form direct to the Registrar)

There is an Inquest and the body is to be buried

Order for Burial

Coroner (the Coroner sends this direct to the Funeral Director)

There is a post mortem or an Inquest and the body is to be cremated

Coroner's certificate for cremation

Coroner (the Coroner sends this direct to the Crematorium)

The body is to be removed out of England and Wales

Removal notice

Coroner (the Coroner sends this direct to the Funeral Director)

The body is to be brought into England and Wales

Evidence that the death has occurred elsewhere.  The death is not registered here but a certificate must be issued for a cremation or burial to take place in England and Wales

Coroner or Registrar.  Usually the paperwork is issued by the Coroner but sometimes the Registrar will issue a certificate of no liability to register



To make things easier for you when you register a death in Cornwall, you can also choose to let the Cornwall Registration Service inform government departments and local council services through the Tell Us Once service.

Please visit our Tell Us Once page for more information.

Next - The Coroner

Back to Bereavement Guide.