When someone dies, there are some things you have to do by law.

Report the death

Tell the person’s doctor, if they don’t already know. If the death is sudden or unexpected, contact the police.

You should also choose and contact a funeral director, if you want to use one.

Get a medical certificate showing the cause of death

This must be signed by a doctor. If the coroner is involved, they will tell you what to do.

Register the death

You usually need to formally register a death within 5 days. You’ll need to make an appointment, which will be conducted over the telephone. The signed medical certificate showing the cause of death will be sent by the doctors to the Register Office. You can call our contact centre on 01925 443322 to arrange an appointment. If the death is COVID-19 related, please call 01925 442194.

After you register the death, you’ll be given the certificates and forms which you’ll need to arrange the funeral and to deal with the person’s affairs and their estate.

Arrange the funeral

You’ll need to decide what kind of funeral it will be, where it will be, what you’d like to include in the service, and whether it will be a burial or cremation. Check the person's will for any special requests. Find out more about planning a funeral.

Wills and probate

You should also contact the executor of the will so they can apply for probate if necessary. Probate is the legal right to deal with the person’s property, money and other assets.

Financial support

You may be able to get some help from the government with funeral or living costs:

  • Funeral Payments - if you are arranging the funeral and you receive certain benefits
  • Bereavement Allowance - if you are widowed between the age of 45 and State Pension age, and you have no dependent children
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance - if you are widowed under State Pension age and you are pregnant or have dependent children

Tell Us Once - government support service

Tell Us Once is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. When you register a death the registrar will:

  • let you know if the service is available in your area
  • give you the phone number
  • give you a unique reference number to use the Tell Us Once service

Organisations Tell Us Once will contact:

  • HM revenue and customs - to deal with personal tax
  • Department for work and pensions (DWP) - to cancel benefits and entitlements like universal credit
  • Passport office - to cancel a British passport
  • Driver and vehicle licensing agency - to cancel a licence
  • the council - to cancel housing benefit, blue badges and to remove the person from the electoral register
  • Veterans UK - to cancel armed forces compensation scheme