We are often asked what to do when someone dies, the role of the Coroner and how to register a death,
We hope this page helps but if you require any further advice or support please contact us directly.
When someone dies at home or in a nursing home
When someone dies at home you will need to contact the their family Doctor even if this is out of hours as the Doctor on call (the Locum Doctor)will attend . If the Doctor is satisfied with the cause of death they will issue a Death Certificate, this can only be issued if he/she knows the cause of death and has been treating the patient within the past 14 days.
If this is not the case, or if there are any other circumstances involved such as a recent operation, possible bone fracture or industrial disease, the Doctor will have to refer the death to the Coroner. However the Locum Doctor can only issue a temporary certificate and must report the death to the family Doctor or Corner. In a nursing home the staff would contact the Doctor inform the family once the doctor has been.
When someone dies suddenly
When someone dies unexpectedly, you would need to call the emergency services or family Doctor. It is normal for the Coroner (England and Wales) or Procurator Fiscal (Scotland) to be involved, there are many reasons why this happens, for example if the deceased has not been under the Doctor’s care on a regular basis and has died unexpectedly.
What does the coroner do?
It is the Coroner’s responsibility to ascertain the cause of Death when their usual Doctor cannot give a reason for death. A post mortem examination will be carried out to find a cause. The Coroner does not require permission to investigate a death in his/her jurisdiction and cannot be prevented from doing so.
When someone dies in hospital
When someone dies in hospital the nursing staff will arrange for a Doctor to issue the death certificate. You will need to collect the death certificate and their belongings from the hospital.
If the funeral is to be a cremation you will need to inform the hospital staff to enable them to make arrangements for cremation forms to be prepared. (A doctor’s fee will apply for the preparation of cremation forms).
Why do doctors charge for cremation forms?
When someone dies and the family wish to have a cremation, it is a legal requirement to have cremation certificates sign by two Doctors, who must have been in practice for more than 5 years.
The first part will be completed and signed by the Doctor who has been treating them for their recent illness and part two will be completed by a second Doctor, who is not known by the family and can give an unbiased opinion as to why the patient has died. A fee will be charged by the Doctors for the completion of these forms as this does not form part of the Doctor’s usual NHS duties.
What do I need to register the death?
To register the death you will need the death Certificate from the Doctor, this certificate may be replaced if the Coroner is involved. The Coroner may make an appointment for you with the registrar (provided there is no inquest) when the post mortem has been carried out.
Most registrar offices have an appointment system and may require the following information:
- Full name of the deceased
- Home address
- Date of birth
- Date and place of death
- Current and past occupation
- If married, the marriage certificate
- Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension
What will the registrar give me?
A Burial/Cremation certificate (known as the Green form), this certificate is given to your chosen Funeral Director. If the Coroner is involved the certificate for burial/cremation will be collected by your funeral director from the Coroner’s office.
You will be required to pay for a death certificate and any further ‘original’ copies, these are needed for banks, insurance companies etc., please note that many organisation will not accept photocopies.
You may be eligible for help towards the cost of arranging a funeral please see our page help with funeral costs.
The registrar will provide further advice and guidance on a number of issues such as the Bereavement Register (which stops unwanted mail) and stopping pensions.
Local Registrar offices (Appointment only)
Gateshead: 0191 433 3000
Newcastle: 0191 211 5089
Sunderland: 0191 553 7766
Durham: 0191 386 4077
I am arranging a burial, what do I need?
All deaths need to be registered with the registrar’s office within the area where the death has taken place and must be recorded within 5 working days. The registrar will need the death certificate issued by the Doctor.
A Burial/Cremation Certificate (known as the Green form) will be issued and can be used for both cremation and burial. Your funeral director will advise you on the purchase of a burial plot and memorial stone.