Where and when to register a death
When someone dies the doctor who was treating the deceased will issue a medical certificate of cause of death to the relatives, the person who will be registering the death must bring the certificate with them. If the death occurred in the Bradford and Keighley Registration District they need to attend either at the Register Office in Bradford or the registrar’s office at Keighley Town Hall, Shipley or Ilkley Town Halls, Bradford Royal Infirmary or Airedale General Hospital (Please see below regarding making appointments). Sometimes if the death was sudden or the doctor treating the deceased is unavailable it may not be possible for a medical certificate of cause of death to be issued, if this happens the death will have to be reported to the Coroner which may lead to a delay in registering the death.
Every death in England or Wales must be registered in the district in which it takes place within 5 days of the date of death unless the Coroner has been involved in which case it may be longer before the death can be registered. Information for the registration is given to the registrar by the person registering the death, the information which is recorded on computer is also recorded in the death register and the person registering the death signs the record.
If it is inconvenient for the person registering the death to go to the district where it took place the information for the registration may be given to a registrar in another district, the registrar will record the particulars on a form of declaration and send it to the registrar in the district where the death occurred, the registrar who receives the declaration will enter the information in the death register. Death certificates, which may be ordered and paid for at the time of making the declaration, as well as other relevant documents including the form allowing the funeral to proceed will be posted to the person who registered the death. If this procedure is used it will take longer for the document allowing the funeral to proceed to be issued because of the need to post the declaration to the other District and to await the return of the document by post. Relatives should discuss the arrangements with their funeral director and the registrar so as to avoid any delay to the funeral.
If you wish to attend the Register Office to make a declaration for a death which occurred elsewhere please telephone and ask to speak to the nominated officer before visiting the office in person. It is necessary to contact the District in which the death occurred and it can save waiting time if this can be done before you attend.
It is essential to make appointments to register deaths at Shipley and Ilkley Town Halls and Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale General Hospital as registrars are only in attendance at these out-stations when appointments have been made for them.
You also need an appointment to register a death at the Register Office in Bradford or the Registrar’s Office in Keighley but in cases of urgency the registrars will endeavour to arrange an appointment for you at short notice.
Who can register a death?
The following people can register a death:
- A relative of the deceased
- Someone present at the death
- The occupier of the home or hospital if he/she knew of the death
- The person making the arrangements with the funeral director
A relative of the deceased registers the majority of deaths. The registrar would normally allow one of the other listed persons to register the death only if there were no relatives available.
Which deaths need to be reported to the coroner?
A number of deaths have to be reported to the Coroner before they can be registered and before the document allowing the funeral to go ahead can be issued. The following are the deaths that if not already reported to the Coroner by someone else will be reported by the registrar:
- Where there is no doctor who can issue a medical certificate of cause of death.
- Where the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after death nor within 14 days before death or where the cause of death is unknown.
- Where the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious.
- Where the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from an anaesthetic or where the death is due to industrial disease or industrial poisoning.
Once a death has been reported to the Coroner the registrar cannot go ahead with the registration until the Coroner has decided whether any further investigation into the death is necessary. In the vast majority of cases no further investigation is necessary and the registration can be completed straightaway.
Information to be supplied for the registration of a death
The following information must be given to the registrar:
- Date and place of death
- Name and surname of the deceased
- Maiden surname if the deceased was a woman who had been married or in a registered civil partnership
- Date and place of birth
- Name and occupation of spouse if the deceased was married or widowed or a registered civil partner
- Usual address of the deceased
- Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds
- If the deceased was married or in a registered civil partnership
- The date of birth of the surviving widow or widower or civil partner.
It is most important that the information recorded in the death register is correct. If any mistake is made it will give the person who registered the death some trouble to have it put right. The person registering the death should check the information very carefully before signing the entry, before signing the register a mistake can easily be rectified.
If the person registering the death has difficulty in communicating in English it will be necessary for him or her to bring someone else to act as interpreter.
What certificates will be issued?
After a death has been registered one or more certificates may be bought at the time of registration or at any time afterwards. Please check with the registrar for the current fee or this can be found in Certificate and Ceremony Fees.
The registrar will issue a certificate for the burial or cremation of the body which is normally passed to the funeral director by the relative who is making the arrangements, a funeral cannot proceed until this certificate is given to the burial authority or the crematorium. If there is a delay to the registration it is possible for a certificate for the burial or cremation of the deceased's body to be issued before registration provided the death does not need to be reported to the Coroner, if the death has been reported to the coroner he or she may issue a certificate for burial or cremation where possible.
A certificate for sending to the Department of Work & Pensions will also be issued by the registrar to the person registering the death.
When a body is to be taken out of England and Wales
If a body is to be taken out of England and Wales notice must be given to the coroner for the area where the body is lying, there is no restriction on the removal of bodies within England and Wales but notice is necessary where the removal is to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands as well as abroad.
A form or notice (form 104) may be obtained from a registrar or a coroner, any certificate for burial or cremation already issued by the registrar or the coroner must be given to the coroner with the notice. The coroner will say when the removal of the body may take place. This will normally be after four clear days from when the coroner received notice but if it is urgent the person giving notice should speak to the coroner since it may be possible to allow the removal sooner.
Further information about registering a death
If you would like further information about registering a death or would like to ask questions about a specific case please telephone the Register Office on 01274 432151 and ask to speak to the Nominated Registrar who will be pleased to advise you further.