What to do when someone dies

When someone dies, no matter whether the death was expected or not, many people feel unsure about what to do. It’s a difficult time and those left behind have to come to terms with their loss as well as contend with the practicalities. These are the outline steps you should take when someone dies. Feel free to download this guide by clicking the button or call us on 01454 414 999.

Download the guide

Certificatation of Death

Certification of Death

A death must be certified by a professional such as a doctor or nurse before a body can be taken into care or to a mortuary.

  1. Death at home – If there is not a nurse in attendance it will be necessary to call the deceased’s GP to certify the death. If you do not know the name of the GP then call an ambulance.
  2. Death in a care home – If the death takes place in a care home, the staff will contact the necessary medical professional to get the death certified.
  3. Death in a hospital – the hospital will take care of the certification of death.
  4. In any of the above cases – You will need to obtain the certification from either the GP or hospital dealing with the death. A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death must be handed to the Registrar when the death is registered.
  5. Sudden Death – If the death was sudden or due to an accident then the body will need to go to the coroner’s office. This is standard practice and unfortunately unavoidable. The coroner may well produce their own paperwork with regard to authorisation for burial or cremation and if so will be collected by your funeral director.  In any case, you will still need to register the death with the Registrar.
Call the funeral director

Call the funeral director

  1. The funeral director will advise you on the next steps of the process and will arrange for the body to be taken into our care prior to the funeral (unless you have alternative plans).
  2. They will also discuss any special requirements that you, your family or the deceased might have. We will also discuss which authorities need to be informed.

MW Funeral Directors                        (01454 414 999)

Call the registrar
(There is a list of local registrars at the end of this section)

You will need to arrange a 30 minute appointment with the registrar within 5 days of the death. Please note that the registrar will require the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death signed by the doctor.

You can go to any registrar’s office but if you use the one in the area where the person died you’ll be given the documents you’ll need on the day.

If you use a different registrar’s office the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person died before they’re issued to you. This means you’ll usually wait a few days.

Registering the death will take about 30 minutes – you might need to make an appointment.

Who can register the death?

You can register the death if you’re:

  • a relative
  • someone present at the death
  • an administrator from the hospital
  • the person making arrangements with the funeral directors

What you need to do

Take the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor) with you.

If available (but don’t worry if not), also take the person’s:

  • birth certificate
  • Council Tax bill
  • driving licence
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • passport
  • proof of address (eg utility bill)

You’ll need to tell the registrar:

  • the person’s full name at the time of death
  • any names previously used, e.g. maiden name
  • the person’s date and place of birth
  • their last address
  • their occupation
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving or late spouse or civil partner
  • whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits

You should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (eg a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them.

Documents you’ll get

When you register a death you’ll get:

  • Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’) – gives permission for burial or an application for cremation
  • Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8) – you may need to fill this out and return it if the person was getting a State Pension or benefits (the form will come with a pre-paid envelope so you know where to send it)

You can purchase extra certified copies of the death certificate – these will be needed for sorting out the deceased’s affairs.

Local Registrars

The Bristol Register Office
The Old Council House
Corn Street

Tel: 0117 922 2800

Kingswood Registration of Births &Deaths
Kingswood Civic Centre
BS15 9TR

Tel: 01454 863140

Yate Registrars
One Stop Shop Yate
Kennedy Way
BS37 4DQ

Tel: 01454 863140

Registration of Births Deaths & Marriages
General Register Office
High St

Phone:01225 477234

If the death occurs at Southmead Hospital, Bristol you may contact The Registry Office in Southmead Hospital with regard to registering the death.

The Registry Office,
Southmead Hospital
Tel: 0117 922 2800
Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4pm

Government Services

Government Services

“Tell Us Once” is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. You can find out more about this here https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/organisations-you-need-to-contact-and-tell-us-once

The registrar will have given you a reference number that will allow you to access the service.

You’ll need the deceased’s:

  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • driving licence number
  • passport number
  • details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting, eg State Pension
  • details of any local council services they were getting, eg Blue Badge
  • name and address of their next of kin
  • name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their estate (property, belongings and money), known as their ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’

You need permission from the next of kin, the executor, the administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the deceased, before you give their details.


Organisations Tell Us Once will contact

Tell Us Once will notify:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – to deal with tax and cancel benefits
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to cancel benefits, eg income support
  • Passport Office – to cancel a passport
  • the local council – to cancel housing benefit, council tax benefit, a Blue Badge, inform council housing services and remove the person from the electoral register

They will also tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to cancel the deceased’s driving licence. You’ll still need to send DVLA any registration certificates (V5C).

You’ll have to let the relevant organisations know about the death yourself if your local register office doesn’t offer the Tell Us Once service or you choose not to use it.

Burial or Cremation

Burial or Cremation

Did the deceased arrange their wishes before their death? If not, you should decide whether they are to be buried or cremated. If they are to be cremated then the funeral director will require at least 5 clear working days between starting to make the arrangements for the funeral and the service, and cremation itself, in order to ensure that all the necessary paperwork has been completed and submitted to the crematorium in good time.

The minister or celebrant should be contacted as soon as possible in order to ensure that they are available for the service on the date proposed.

Paperwork for cremations

Paperwork for cremations

Your funeral director will take care of the paperwork required by the crematorium.  In the case of a cremation the Green Form is required as is a Medical Certificate for Cremation which will be signed off by two doctors; (this will be raised by the GP or doctors at the hospital in which the death took place).  Also required is the Application for Cremation Form which is completed by the deceased’s next of kin or executor and submitted (in good time) to the crematorium with the Green Form and Medical Certificate for Cremation.

Paperwork for burial

Paperwork for burial

The registrar will have produced a Green Form granting permission for the body to be buried or cremated.  This should be handed to your funeral director as soon as possible.  A burial cannot go ahead without the Green Form.

Your funeral director will liaise with all the parties involved in the arrangements for the funeral including the ordering of the coffin, the digging of the grave and the time of the funeral.

Day of the funeral

Burial – On the day of the funeral your funeral director with the hearse, (and limousine, if required) and staff necessary to conduct the funeral, will meet you at the place and time you have agreed when making the arrangements.  It may be that your preference will be to meet at home and then travel in cortege to  the place where the funeral service is to be held, perhaps a church, and then onto the cemetery for burial after the service.

Cremation – On the day of the funeral your funeral director with the hearse (a limousine if required) and staff necessary to conduct the funeral, will meet you at   the  place and time you have agreed prior, when making the arrangements. It may be that your preference will be to meet at home and then travel in cortege to  the place where the funeral service is to be held, perhaps directly to the crematorium or, perhaps a church, and then onto the crematorium for    cremation after the service.

If required, after the funeral, the limousine can be available to take family onto the place chosen for the reception.