You must register someone’s death straight away to avoid committing offence

It's never good news hearing that someone has died – but there are important steps to take before moving on to the burial, cremation and funeral stages which follow.

A person's death needs to officially registered before any of these steps are taken.

The process is not a long one, but it needs to be done the right way as it is illegal not to register a death.

According to the Mirror it can also only be done by certain people, and specific details are required to complete it.

The key information you need to know about registering a death and how it needs to be done.

By law, a death must be registered within five days.

This includes weekends and bank holidays, so it must be done within this time frame regardless of the days.

It's a criminal offence not to register a death in time.

But some exceptions do apply to the law.

Registration can be delayed for another nine days if the registrar is told that a medical certificate has been issued and if the death has been reported to the coroner.

But you cannot register it until the coroner's investigations are finished.

The only people who can report a death are:

  • a relative who was present at the death
  • a relative present during the person's last illness
  • a relative living in the district where the death took place
  • anyone else present at the death
  • an owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of the death
  • the person arranging the funeral (but not the funeral director)

The responsibility for registering a death cannot be delegated to anyone else who does not fit these criteria.

The formal registration of death needs to take place at a register office, where you'll be given the documents you need to complete.

The process normally only takes around 30 minutes to complete and involves answering simple questions about the deceased.

Some specific information is needed, however, to ensure the registration is completed correctly.

You must take the medical certificate of death with you as the death cannot be registered until the registrar has seen this and, if possible, you should also take the person's NHS medical card and birth and marriage certificates.

You will also need to present other information including:

  • the date and place of death
  • the full name of the person (including maiden name) and their last address
  • the person's date and place of birth
  • the person's job
  • the full name, date of birth and job of a living or dead spouse or civil partner
  • if the person was still married, the date of birth of their husband or wife
  • whether the person was receiving a pension or other social security benefits

If you are unable to present the information required it may delay the legal process.

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