In Times of Bereavement

In the unfortunate event that a person has passed away, there are three things that must be done in the first few days;

  • Get a medical certificate from your GP or hospital doctor (this is necessary to register the death)
  • Register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland). You will then receive the necessary documents for the funeral.
  • Make the necessary funeral arrangements.

If your loved one died at home or in a care home, the death will be referred to the Medical Examiner's office by the practice in the first instance before the practice is able to issue the medical certificate. The Medical Examiner Service has been introduced to ensure information that is written on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is accurate, referrals to the Coroner are appropriate, to improve patient care and to support those that are bereaved. The Medical Examiner is an independent senior doctor. Within a few days of the death, you will be contacted by telephone by a Medical Examiner or Medical Examiner Officer. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the cause of death, care and their last illness. If you have any concerns we can advise on the best way to raise those. Following the call the GP will inform you once the MCCD has been released to the Registrar. 

Bereavement information leaflet

Register the death

If the death has been reported to the coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) they must give permission before registering the death.

You can register the death if you are a relative, a witness to the death, a hospital administrator or the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

You can use the ‘Register a Death’ page on the website that will guide you through the process. This will also explain the registration process for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Arrange the funeral

The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.

Funeral directors

Choose a funeral director who’s a member of one of the following:

These organisations have codes of practice - they must give you a price list when asked.

Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association can also help with non-religious funerals.

Arranging the funeral yourself

Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council to arrange a funeral yourself.

Funeral costs

Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example, crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial or cremation fees

Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quotes.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website