Getting a death certificate is a fairly simple process in the UK, but it needs to be done soon after your loved one’s death. This article will explain exactly what a death certificate is, why you need one, and how you can go about getting one.
When you register someone’s death, their information is recorded on the national death register. A death certificate is an official, physical copy of that information. If you plan on arranging a funeral or a cremation for your loved one or wish to apply for a grant of probate to handle their estate, you will need a death certificate.
During the probate process, many financial institutions will only disclose information about someone’s bank accounts, pension funds or life insurance if they can see an official death certificate. This certificate cannot be a copy that you have made at home; it must be an official copy that you paid for from the register office. For this reason, some people choose to purchase more than one death certificate so that the estate can be handled more quickly. This is usually a good idea if the estate you are handling is particularly large or complex and many different organisations need to be contacted for information. Regardless, any organisation to whom you send a death certificate will return it to you after they have inspected it.
A death certificate can be purchased from the register office after you register a death. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, deaths must be registered no more than five days after the person died. In Scotland, the death must be registered within eight days. Registering a death is always free, but the death certificates will cost £11 per copy.
To register a death, you will need to make an appointment with a register office. If your loved one died in England or Wales, this should be the register office that is closest to the place where they died to avoid any hold-ups. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the location of the register office doesn’t matter. If you are unsure where the register office is that you need to visit, there is a service on the government website that will find one for you (https://www.gov.uk/register-offices).
There are several important documents that you should bring with you to the register office to avoid any issues. You must have the deceased’s medical certificate, which contains details about their death and will have been provided by a doctor or GP. You also need a form of identification for yourself, so that you can prove that you have some relation to the person who died.
At the register office, you might be required to give some information about the person who died, so it would also be useful to have some of their documents with you, such as their driving license, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of address, or any other important document containing personal information that you can find. The information that you might need in order to register the death includes:
The appointment should only take around thirty minutes and you will be given the death certificate immediately. However, sometimes register offices can be busy and appointments may need to be made days in advance. Therefore, you should phone the register office as soon as possible after the death to make an appointment so that you are able to get it registered within five days, or eight days if you are in Scotland.
Usually, deaths are registered by a relative of the person who died. Sometimes, however, there are no relatives available. If this is the case, their death can be registered by anyone who was present when they died, an administrator from the hospital where they died, or someone who is in charge of arranging the person’s funeral.