What to do when someone dies


When someone dies, the first steps you need to take will depend on how and where they died. We have crafted a few answers to commonly asked questions.

Call the family doctor and nearest relative.

If the death was expected, for example due to a terminal illness, in most instances the doctor will issue a medical certificate of the cause of death to allow the death to be registered at the Register Office. A Death Certificate will then be provided.

Having spoken with the GP practice and when you feel ready to do so, you can contact a funeral director

Call 111 immediately and ask for advice.

An unexpected death may need to be reported to a coroner. A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. They may call for a post-mortem or inquest to find out the cause of death. This may take some time, so the funeral may need to be delayed.

The hospital will usually issue a medical certificate and formal notice. They will support you with the next steps you need to take.

Register the death according to the regulations of the country. Register it with the British Consul in the country too, so you can get a consulate death certificate and a record can be kept in the UK.

A death needs to be registered within five days.

When you go to the register office, you’ll need to take with you the medical certificate showing the cause of death, signed by a doctor. If possible, also take the person’s:

    • birth certificate
    • NHS medical card or number
    • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
    • Driving licence
    • Proof of their address.

You will have to tell the registrar:

    • The person’s full name (and any other names they had, such as a maiden name)
    • The person’s date and place of birth
    • Their date and place of death
    • Their usual address
    • Their most recent occupation
    • Whether or not they were receiving any benefits, including State Pension, and the name, occupation, and date of birth of their spouse or civil partner.

When you have provided the required information, the registrar will give you:

    • A certificate for burial or cremation (known as the Green Form)
    • A certificate of registration of death (form BD8). You should fill this out and return it in the pre-paid envelope if the person was receiving State
    • Pension or any benefits (this won't be necessary if you are using the Government's Tell US Once service).
      Leaflets about bereavement benefits
    • A death certificate, for which there will be a charge.

The "Tell Us Once" service can be used to report a death to several government departments in one go. The service is offered by most local authorities. You can arrange for an appointment to take place when you register the death, or you can either access it online or over the phone.

You will need to get a "Tell Us Once" reference number from the registrar. All information can be found at

When someone dies there's often a lot to deal with – their paperwork, finances, legal issues, property, as well as coping with your own emotional reaction to their death. You must remember to look after yourself too and not be afraid to ask for help if you feel you are not coping mentally, physically or emotionally. There are several organisations other than your GP that you can go to, whether you are just in need of a chat with somebody that has a good ear, or more practical help to deal with grieving and the emotions that go alongside losing someone. Here are a few;