A death must be registered before any funeral can take place.
You must register the death within five days in the local authority area where the death took place.
Documents/information needed to register the death:
- the date and place the person died
- the person’s usual address
- the person’s first name, middle names and surname (maiden name, if this applies)
- the person’s date and place of birth (inc town, county, country)
- the person’s occupation and the name and occupation of their husband, wife or civil partner (if the person was married or in a civil partnership)
- if the deceased received a pension or benefit from the Government
- date of birth of their surviving husband, wife or civil partner.
Please note: if you do not have all the information listed above it is worth checking with the registrar what information is acceptable.
If you require further assistance you can email [email protected] – please note we are giving priority to death registration appointments.
The death certificate will be posted to you, but the ‘green form’ (Certificate for Burial or Cremation) will likely be sent straight to your funeral director, if you are using one, or to the cemetery/crematorium if the deceased has already been collected. If they have not been collected and you do not yet know what funeral director you are using it may be possible for the ‘green form’ to be posted to you. Funeral directors are now also authorised to register a death if they are arranging the funeral and authorised by a relative of the deceased.
If the person died at home unexpectedly, you should dial 999 and ask for an ambulance and police immediately.
Arranging a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic
As of 23 March, the government guidance states that funerals can only be conducted at the crematorium or graveside, and are only to be attended by close family members. People in high-risk groups (70 or over, pregnant or with certain underlying health conditions), those with coronavirus symptoms or who are meant to be in self-isolation should not attend. The number of mourners should be restricted so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) can be maintained between individuals and only the following people should attend:
- Members of the person’s household
- Close family members
- If the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to attend
However, regardless of how many ‘close’ family members there are, most crematoriums are restricting attendees to a maximum of 10, while some are advising that no one can attend, as are some funeral directors.
Many families will feel keenly the absence of a big funeral service with lots of family and friends and the get-together, reception or wake after it; it may help to discuss with a faith leader the planning of a memorial service when lockdown is over.
The funeral directors’ companies will be best placed to advise you on their policies and procedures. Funerals should be arranged over the phone or via electronic means if possible. The funeral director will arrange with the hospital to transfer your loved one to their mortuary.
Washing, dressing and viewing
National guidance is that washing, dressing and viewing the deceased are allowed, including for people who have died from, or with symptoms of, Covid-19, however, you could be asked to view by use of a viewing panel in the coffin, at a distance or through a window. There is a small, but real risk of transmission from the body of the deceased if they died from, or with symptoms of, COVID-19. Therefore, the government strongly advises mourners not to take part in any rituals or practices that bring them into close contact with the body, for example washing, preparing or dressing the body themselves, and avoid kissing or touching the body. It is strongly advised that those in vulnerable and extremely vulnerable groups have no contact with the body.
Cremations - doctors’ fees
Normally, unless the coroner has conducted an investigation, two doctors have to complete forms to allow a cremation to go ahead. These cost £82 each. However, the government has temporarily suspended the requirement for the second form, meaning that doctors’ fees for cremations will now only be £82, not £164.
More information about funeral directors can be obtained from:
National Association of Funeral Directors
Tel: 0121 230 1343
National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors
Tel: 0127 972 6777
Email: [email protected]