Hemel Hempstead (01442) 253465

Berkhamsted (01442) 870326

Registering a Death in England and Wales

In most cases a GP or hospital doctor can issue a Medical Certificate of the cause of death which will then allow the death to be registered by the Registrar of Births and Deaths. If a doctor cannot give a proper certificate, the death occurred during an operation or was due to an industrial disease, violence or was in some other way unnatural or suspicious then the Registrar, police or doctor will report the death to the Coroner. If you have been told that the death is to be reported to the Coroner, you should still read the following information regarding registering the death, however specific information regarding the Coroner can be found further down the page. You can go straight to this information by clicking here.

Where can the death be registered?

It is usually best for the death to be registered at the Register Office for the district in which it took place. For example if the death occurred in Watford General Hospital, the registration should be made at Watford Register Office.

If it is not possible for you to attend at the office where the death should be registered then you may make a declaration at any Register Office in England and Wales. The death declaration will then be sent to the correct office. The death certificates and other documents will be posted to you, which will cause a delay in you being able to make the funeral arrangements.

At most Register Offices an appointment is required. You should telephone to arrange a convenient time for your appointment.

Who can register the death?

Most deaths occur in a house, a hospital or an elderly persons home and the law states that a death may be registered by (in this order of preference):

  • A relative of the deceased
  • A person present at death
  • The occupier of the house or institution where the death took place, if there is no known relative who is able to register
  • The person who is arranging the funeral, that is the person instructing the Funeral Director

The law does not allow for the Funeral Director to register on your behalf.

Is there a time limit to register a death?

Yes, in normal circumstances you have to notify the Registrar within 5 days of the date of death. This does not apply when the Coroner is involved.

How long will the death registration take?

The registration takes about 30 minutes if all the necessary information is at hand. In some circumstances the Registrar may have to refer the death to the Coroner. Only provisional funeral arrangements should be made until the death has been registered and then confirmed when the authority for the funeral has been issued.

What information will the Registrar require?

You may find it useful to write out this information before your appointment with the Registrar to ensure the information you give is accurate.

  • Date and place of death
  • Full name of the deceased
  • Maiden name in the case of a woman who has been married
  • Date and place of birth of the deceased
  • Occupation of the deceased and in the case of a woman who is married or widowed, the full name and occupation of her husband
  • The address of the deceased
  • If the deceased was still married, the date of birth of their spouse
  • If readily available the Medical card or the National Health Service Number
  • Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or benefits from public funds

Will the Registrar issue any documents on registration?

Yes, the Registrar will issue a form to take to the Funeral Director (in some cases this will have been issued by the Coroner) which gives permission for burial or cremation (often known as the Green Form). You will also be given another form, which you should take or send to the DWP in respect of the state pensions and benefits.

You will also be able to purchase standard Death certificates. These are copies of the entry in the Register, which you will need for a variety of purposes such as sorting out the will, claiming a pension or unlocking savings from the deceased’s accounts.

The number of certificates you need will vary according to how complicated the deceased's personal affairs were. Take as many as you think you might need at this stage because the fees can rise for certificates obtained at a later date. You will not need a copy of the certificate for the Funeral Director.

How can the Registrar be contacted?

The Registrar can be contacted either by visiting the Register Office in person or by phone. The details of the Dacorum area Register Office are below:
Dacorum Register Office
The Bury
Hemel Hempstead

Phone: (01442) 426740

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday, 08:30 - 16:30

Why is a death reported to a Coroner?

A death may be referred to the Coroner for a number of reasons:

  • When no doctor has treated the deceased during his or her last illness or not attended upon the deceased in the last 14 days before death
  • When the death occurred during an operation, or before full recovery from anaesthetic
  • When a patient has died within 24 hours of being admitted to hospital (by local Coroner’s request)
  • When the death was possibly due to an industrial disease
  • When the death was caused by violence or any other unnatural cause for example a road traffic accident or another type of accident
  • When the death occurred in prison or in police custody
  • When a doctor is unable to give a proper certificate of a cause of death
  • When the circumstances of the death are suspicious

Once the Coroner’s investigations are completed, the death must be registered at the Register Office. In inquest cases, registration can only take place after the inquest has been held.

What happens when a death has been reported to the Coroner?

Once a death has been reported to the Coroner one of three things will happen:

  • The Coroner may decide that no action is necessary and he will issue a form 100A to the Registrar stating this. You should check with the relevant Register Office to ensure the form has been received and make arrangements to register the death.
  • The Coroner may decide to ask a Pathologist to carry out a post-mortem. When this happens there will be a delay whilst the cause of death is established. The Coroner will study the Pathology report and any other information about the circumstances of the death. The Coroner may then decide to issue a form 100B to the Registrar and the informant should check with the relevant Register Office that the form has been received and arrange to register the death.
  • The Coroner may decide after considering the pathology report and circumstances of the death to hold an inquest. If the cause of death is unnatural the Coroner may be obliged to hold an inquest. A date will be set for the inquest and this may be some weeks or even months away. During this period of waiting the death cannot be registered, although the Coroner will be able to release the body for the funeral soon after the cause of death is known.

Where hardship would result from not being able to produce a death certificate, the Coroner can arrange to issue an interim death certificate.
After the inquest, form 99A or B will be issued to the relevant Register Office and the death will be registered on the Coroners information. It is not necessary for you to attend in these cases.

Once the death has been registered, death certificates can be obtained by personal or postal application. A telephone call to the Register Office will answer any questions you have about obtaining the certificates.

Who are the Coroners and what do they do?

Coroners are independent judicial officers in England and Wales. They are normally lawyers or doctors. Their duty is to inquire into deaths reported to them which appear to be violent, unnatural, or of a sudden and unknown cause. In most of these cases the Coroner will order a post mortem to establish a cause of death, and may then hold an inquest. The Coroner also authorises the movement of the deceased into or out of England or Wales.

Normally the public do not deal directly with the Coroner, but with Coroners' Officers. These officers work with the direction of the Coroner and liaise with bereaved families, the police, doctors and funeral directors.

What is a post mortem examination?

A post mortem is a medical examination carried out by a pathologist on behalf of the Coroner. The Coroner will normally give notice that this will take place unless this is not practicable or would unduly delay the examination. The consent of the next-of-kin is not required for a post mortem to take place, however they are entitled to be represented at the examination by a doctor of their choice. The next-of-kin can also ask for a separate post mortem to take place at their own expense and by a pathologist of their choice. A report will be produced for the Coroner after each post mortem examination, copies of which will normally be available to the next-of-kin and certain other relatives. A fee may be payable for this report. All other medical records remain confidential after death, however the Coroner can request medical information which may be relevant to their enquiries.

When can the funeral be held?

If a post mortem reveals that the death was due to natural causes and that an inquest is not needed, the Coroner will release the body, the death can be registered and the funeral can then be arranged. A Death Certificate can be obtained at this point. If there is to be an inquest, the Coroner can normally issue a burial order or cremation certificate after the post mortem is completed. If charges have been brought against somebody for causing the death it may be necessary to have a second post mortem or further investigations. These may delay the funeral arrangements.

What can I expect from the Coroner?

The Hertfordshire Coroners work to a charter, a copy of which is available from the Coroner on request or online by clicking here.

How can the Coroner be contacted?

The Coroner for West Hertfordshire, which covers Dacorum and Watford is based in Hatfield. Their details are as follows:
The Old Courthouse
St Albans Road East
Hertfordshire. AL10 0ES

Phone: (01707) 897406 or 897407 or 897408

Useful Links

The government provides some very good information regarding registering a death through their web portal at:

The Hertfordshire Coroner's Service have their own web pages, which contains more information on the services they provide to the public: