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Requesting a British death certificate

Death certificate: learn how to request a British death record

A loved one has passed away, and now you will have to deal with a lot of administrative procedures.

To ease off things for you and help you through these tough times, we will explain the different steps to follow.

In particular, we will explain all there is to know about one of the most relevant formalities one has to take care of after a death: how to declare it and how to obtain a certified copy of a death record.


A Death Certificate is a legal document issued by a medical practitioner, either at home or at the hospital. You will have five days to register a death, or eight days if you live in Scotland. A death certificate includes all of the following information:

  • - From the deceased person: name and surname, sex, age, birth details, and occupation at the moment of death.

  • - Regarding the death: death causes, when and where the person died.

  • - In relation to the informant: personal details and domicile.

  • - Other data: date when the death was registered and signature of the registrar.

• What do you need a death certificate for?

You’ll need a death certificate for numerous administrative procedures, such as the following:

  • - To claim a pension, insurance, or other government economic aids like Bereavement Support Payment and Guardian's Allowance.

  • - To deliver to the executor or administrator of the deceased's will for the transfer of property and goods.

  • - To close bank accounts and cancel credit/debit cards.

  • - To prove your civil status in case you wish to remarry.

  • - You can also request a death certificate for a genealogy study.


• Who can register a death?

Registration of a death is usually carried out by a close relative of the deceased. However, if no relative is available, only specific people can register a decease. This may be a person who:

  • - Was present at the time of the person's death

  • - Lives in the house where the person died

  • - Is organising the funeral, but is not a funeral director

• What is the procedure to register a death?

To register a death, you must have the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death given by the doctor who declared the passing away. Once you have this document, you must make an appointment with the local register office, which will issue the death certificate.

You will also receive a "certificate for a burial" or an application for cremation, wich you'll need to deliver either to the funeral director or the crematorium right away.

Only the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is compulsory, however, if you have the following documents concerning the deceased, they will be very useful:

Death registration is free of charge, however, there is a charge for certified copies of a death record. We'll explain further on these rates in the next section.


• Who can request a death certificate?

Anyone can request for a certified copy of a death record as it is designed as a "public record". This means that you can apply for someone's death certificate even if the person is not your relative.

• How to order a copy online

You will first need to register on the General Register Office (GRO) website. Then, you simply need to follow the given instructions, provide the requested data, and pay for the corresponding charges. The whole request process takes only about 10 minutes and is 100% online.

If you need help with your order, you can contact the GRO to the email, use the online form, or send a mail to the following post address:

General Register Office
PO Box 2

There is also a telephone line available at 0300 123 1837, and the textphone number 18001 0300 123 1837. Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.

• What are the cost and processing times?

The price per copy can vary between £8 and £12 depending on your location: ask your local register office for further information. It is possible to pay the fee using either a debit or a credit card.

Certified copies are sent out around 4 days after application, unless you don't have a GRO index reference number, which extends processing times up to 15 working days and costs an extra £3 per search.

There is the option to apply for priority service in case you wish to get your certificate sooner. This service is available for an additional fee of £35, and if ordered before 4pm, allows for the certificate to be sent the next working day.

Now that you have all this information available, we hope you will be able to get the death certificate you require with no delays!

How to get a British death certificate