The Medical Certificate
This has to be produced before the death can be registered.
A doctor at the place of death either home or hospital will give you a medical certificate that will show the cause of death. You will be given the medical certificate in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
If the body is to be cremated, two doctors will sign the medical certificate to show the body has been examined. There will be a charge for this.
When a death will be reported to the coroner
- after an accident or injury
- following an industrial disease
- during a surgical operation
- before recovery from an anaesthetic
- if the cause of death is unknown
- if the death was violent or unnatural - for example, suicide, accident or drug or alcohol overdose
- if the death was sudden and unexplained - for instance, a sudden infant death (cot death)
Additionally, if the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after he or she died, or during the 14 days before the death, the death must be reported to the coroner.
Anyone who is concerned about the cause of a death can inform a coroner about it, but in most cases a death will be reported to the coroner by a doctor or the police.
What happens once a death is reported to the Coroner?
The coroner may be the only person able to certify the cause of death.
The doctor will write on the Formal Notice that the death has been referred to the coroner. The Formal Notice is issued to you by the attending doctor and is a document which explains how you register the death
The coroner will then decide whether there should be further investigation into the death - and the registrar cannot register the death until notified of the coroner's decision. This means that the funeral will usually also be delayed.
Where a post-mortem has taken place, the coroner must give permission for cremation.
In some cases, the coroner will need to order a post-mortem.
This is a medical examination of the body to find out more about the cause of death. In these cases, the body will be taken to hospital for this to be carried out.