When a death occurs

If you are not present at the time of death of a next of kin the doctor, hospital, hospice or nursing home will contact you to inform you that death has occurred. A doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

If death has occurred at the family home, nursing home or hospice relatives or nursing staff will usually contact the funeral director who will then bring the deceased into their care. This can be done at any time of the day or night although if death occurs during the night you can wait until the following morning if you prefer.

When someone dies there are various people and organisations who need to be informed and forms which need to be completed. We at Saint and Forster will advise you and talk you through the process but the guide below will explain the most important things that you need to do.

When and where to register a death
A death usually needs to be registered within five days in the district in which it occurred. In Darlington registrations are by appointment only and will last about 30 minutes. You will need to register the death yourself but we can accompany you to the appointment if you wish.

You can contact the Register Office at the following address:

The Register Office
Bull Wynd
Darlington
DL1 5RG
01325 346604

When registering a death you will need to take:

  • The Medical Certificate of Cause of death, signed by the doctor
  • Any paperwork issued by the Coroner, if applicable.
  • If they are available you should also take:
  • The Birth Certificate of the Deceased
  • The Certificate of Marriage or Civil Partnership of the deceased if applicable
  • The NHS Medical Card of the deceased.
  • You will need to tell the Registrar the following information about the deceased:
  • Full name at the time of death
  • Any names they have previously used, including maiden name if applicable
  • Date and place of birth
  • Last address
  • Last occupation
  • Details of any state pension or other state benefits they were receiving
  • The full name, date of birth and occupation of any surviving spouse or civil partner.

Provided a post-mortem is not being held the Registrar will provide you with:

  • A certificate for burial or cremation (known as the ‘Green Form’). This gives permission for the body to be buried, or for an application to be made for cremation. If the body is to be cremated the GP or hospital will arrange for a second doctor to sign the form. The Green Form is required by the funeral director.
  • A BD8 form, which is required by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) for social security purposes relating to pensions, benefits and National Insurance.
  •  A Death Certificate. Extra copies of this are available if you require them, although a charge will be made for these.

If the death is referred to the Coroner
In a small number of cases, where the death is sudden or suspicious, or where the cause of death is unclear, the doctor, hospital or Registrar will refer the death to the Coroner. In this case the registration of the death will be delayed. Only provisional arrangements can be made for the funeral at this point. If this applies to you the Coroner’s Office will liaise with you throughout the process.

The Coroner’s Office can be contacted on 01388 761564 or 03000 265556. If a post-mortem is needed, the Coroner will issue any necessary documents to you as quickly as possible afterwards.

If you find yourself in this situation please don’t worry. We will be on hand to discuss funeral arrangements, give information and advice, or just for reassurance and we will be here for you when you are ready to proceed with the funeral.

The Bereavement Register
When somebody has died there are enough things to think about without the upset of receiving post addressed to the deceased. The bereavement register exists to make sure that people who have passed away do not continue to receive post from mailing lists. You can contact the bereavement register at www.the-bereavement-register.org.uk or, if you prefer, we can take care of this for you.