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Registering a death

Registering a death

Information about how to register a death

After the death of a loved one, the complexities of paperwork can seem daunting. This simple step-by-step guide will help you through the process and hopefully reduce some of the anxieties felt at this difficult time.

At the moment, due to the Coronavirus, you are unable to make face-to-face appointments to register a death.  If your relative dies here at the hospice, we will contact the registration office, informing them of the death and giving them your contact details.  The registration officer will then hope to contact you within 48 hours (although it could be up to 5 days at this time). When they contact you, if possible, please have ready the following documents/details of the person who has died: 

  • National Insurance number
  • Birth/Marriage certificates
  • Details of state benefits
  • NHS medical card
  • Also your own National Insurance number.


The information below is the normal procedure for registering a death

This link is for the Department of Work & Pensions and explains what to do after a death. All information contained within the DWP28 leaflet is now available on the government website, please refer to this link for more information

Below is a simple 5 step guide about what you need to do when registering a death. 

  1. Who can register a death  Ideally, the person registering the death should be the next of kin or the nearest close relative. Alternatively, it could be someone who was present at the death, or the person dealing with the funeral arrangements. If you have doubts, please seek advice when making your appointment with the registrar.
  2. Obtaining the medical certificate  On the Hospice Bedded Unit The hospice Medical Officer or Consultant will produce a medical certificate on the day or shortly after death. You will need this document before you can proceed to inform the registrar of the loss of your loved one. Usually the hospice will contact you by phone when the certificate is ready for collection. At home/other care environment The patient’s GP or District  Nurse can verify the death and  guidance will be given on when the  medical certificate will be ready for  collection from them. You will need this document before you can  proceed with the registrar.
  3. Making an appointment with the registrar  A death should normally be registered within 5 days unless a referral has been made to the Coroner. Once the medical certificate has been issued, you can proceed with booking an appointment to register the death. The central telephone number is: 0345 155 1002.  Registrars are unable to take ‘walk-in’ appointments so it is essential to book in advance.  Coroner Referrals: The coroner may need to be informed if the deceased underwent an invasive procedure or surgery in the preceding year. This is usually a formality, but it will mean a delay in registering the death by 2-3 days, as the registrar will need the coroner’s paperwork before registering the death. We will require your consent to pass on your telephone number to the registrar, who will then make contact with you regarding the appointment.
  4. What you need to take to the registrar appointment

As well as the signed medical certificate, the registrar will need the following information about the deceased:
• date and place of death

• full name, including any previous names, and usual address

• date and place of birth

• occupation

• name, date of birth and occupation of spouse/civil partner, if applicable

• whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds.

You will need to take some form of identification for yourself (such as your passport, driving license, council tax or utility bill).  If available, you should also take the deceased’s NHS medical card, birth certificate and marriage or civil partnership certificate, but these are not essential so please don’t worry if you do not have them.

5. ‘Tell Us Once’ Service
Devon registrar service operates the Tell Us Once scheme, whereby all government departments will be notified of the death for you. The organisations contacted include:
• HM Revenue & Customs to deal with tax and cancel benefits

• Passport Office

• Local authorities to remove from the electoral roll and cancel local benefits; blue badge etc

• DVLA to cancel the driving licence

• DWP (Department for work and Pensions).

Take as many of the following documents as possible to your appointment:
• Passport

• Driving Licence

• National Insurance Number

• Blue Badge

• National Bus Pass.
If you do not have all the necessary documents at this time, you may choose to complete the process later; the registrar will explain all of this to you.
The ‘Tell Us Once’ Service will contact the DVLA to cancel the deceased’s driving licence, but you will have to contact them directly if you wish to sell or keep any vehicle registered in their name. See www.dvla-contact-number. or call their helpline on 0844 453 0118

Death certificates
It is advisable to order as many death certificates as you think you might need at the time of registration. You will need to have a copy of the death certificate for each asset holder, e.g for each bank or building society where there are accounts, each pension or insurance policy. There is a cost attached.  For more information about registering a death, including details of all the Devon Registration Offices and up-to-date costs for copies of the death certificate, see registrationservice or call the central telephone number, 0345 155 1002. The people manning the central telephone line will be pleased to help you with any queries or concerns you might have.

Registration outside Devon
There are 10 registration offices in the Devon area. These do not include the office of Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council who have their own registration services. If you are unable to travel to register the death at one of the 10 Devon offices, you can register it at a more convenient location in England or Wales. You can make an appointment with your chosen office using the same central number. Your local registrar will send all the information you provide to the registrar in Barnstaple, who will produce the death certificate. If registering the death outside Devon, it is advisable to inform the funeral director and the Barnstaple registrar. It will mean a delay in making the funeral arrangements.

Devon Registration Offices
There are four registration offices within the North Devon Hospice catchment area:
North Devon: Taw View, Barnstaple, EX31 1ED
Torridge: Caddsdown Business Support Centre, Farm Road, Bideford, EX39 3DX
East Devon: Old Heathcoat School Community Centre, King Street, Tiverton, EX16 5JJ
West Devon: Okehampton Town Council Offices, Fore Street, Okehampton, EX20 1AA