5. How to register a death
The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages must register the death within eight days. But it is desirable to have the death registered as soon as possible. All deaths that happen in Scotland must be registered in Scotland, even if the dead person's usual residence was outwith Scotland and the body is to be taken outwith Scotland for interment. Registration of a death must also take place before burial or cremation can take place.
For deaths which have not been reported to the Procurator Fiscal a random selection of the medical certificates of cause of death will be selected for review, through the registration system. These reviews are designed to check the quality and accuracy of certificates and to improve how this information is recorded.
If the death you are registering is selected for review you may not immediately be able to complete the death registration. The registrar will explain the review process and timescales, and will contact you when the review is complete.
You can make initial funeral arrangements while the review is underway. However, the funeral cannot take place until the review is completed and you receive the Certificate of registration of Death (Form 14) from the registrar.
If you need the funeral to go ahead quickly you may be able to apply for advance registration.
Further information on the review service and how to apply for advance registration can be read here - www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/deathcertification
The death may be registered by:
- any relative (this includes the spouse or civil partner of the person who died or a relative by marriage or civil partnership);
- any person present at the death;
- the executor or other legal representative;
- the occupier of the premises where the death took place;
- or, if there is no such person
- any other person possessing the information needed for registration.
Deaths may be registered by any registrar in Scotland.
You can get the address of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the area from the funeral director, the telephone directory, the hospital or doctor or the Post Office. Most registration offices operate an appointment system so you should check when the registrar is available.
Take with you:
- Medical certificate of death (Form 11) (see section 3).
- Any certificate or document relating to any pension, benefits, or allowances which the person was receiving from public funds.
- NHS medical card, if available.
- The person's birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates, if available.
Things to tell the Registrar:
- The full name, occupation and postal address of the person and his or her date and country of birth.
- If the person was:
- married or a civil partner;
- widowed or a surviving civil partner;
- divorced or his or her civil partnership was dissolved or annulled,
- If the person was married or a civil partner at the date of death, tell the registrar the date of birth of the surviving widow, widower or civil partner.
- The full name and occupation of the dead person's father, and the full name and maiden surname of his or her mother.
- Whether the person was in receipt of a pension or an allowance from public funds.
- The name and address of the person's NHS doctor.
The Registrar will give you:
- A Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14), to be given to the funeral director so that the funeral can go ahead. If the death you are registering is selected for review you may not immediately be able to complete the death registration. The registrar will explain the review process and timescales, and will contact you when the review is complete.
- A form 334/SI, "Registration or notification of death" for use in obtaining or adjusting Benefits or for National Insurance purposes.
- On payment of the appropriate fee, an extract of the entry recorded in the Register of Deaths. You may need this to get information about the person's assets. This could include things such as his or her pension, insurance policies, savings, and Premium Bonds.
If someone dies abroad:
- Register the death according to the rules in the country where the person died, and get a certificate of death.
- Although not required, you may also be able to register the death with the British Consul. This would mean that a record of the death will be kept in Scotland, and you would be able to get a copy of the record at a later date from the General Register Office for Scotland, New Register House, West Register Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, telephone: 0131 334 0380.
- If you need further assistance you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) Certificate Helpline 0207 0080186 (mornings only).
Deaths outside of the UK must be registered according to the regulations of the country where the death occurred. Before you can have a body repatriated to Scotland, you will need to obtain the death certificate or equivalent and authorisation for the removal of the body from the appropriate authorities in the country where the death occurred.
The Death Certification Review Service run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland is responsible for checking relevant paperwork and authorising burial or cremation of people who have died outside of the UK and have been returned to Scotland.
The Death Certification Service can be contacted using the details below:
Telephone: 0300 123 1898
If a baby is stillborn (born dead after the 24th week of pregnancy):
- Register the stillbirth within 21 days.
- Give the Registrar a certificate of stillbirth (Form 6) signed by the midwife or doctor.
- If no midwife or doctor was present, the parents will have to sign a Declaration as to Stillbirth (Form 7) which they can get from the registrar. The registrar will then give you a Certificate of Registration of Stillbirth (Form 8) to give to the funeral director so that the funeral can go ahead. (For help with the funeral of a stillborn baby, see also section 8.)