When someone dies, the feelings of shock, grief and numbness can make it hard to know what practical things you need to legally do next

There are several organisations offering useful and straightforward advice including Gov.UK who provide a step-by-step guide on the process you must follow. Consumer website which? have also put together an easy to follow factsheet.

If you use the Government’s Tell Us Once service it enables you to report a death to the following organisations at the same time:

■ Tax office (HMRC)

■ Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

■ DVLA (don’t forget to return the deceased person’s driving licence to the DVLA)

■ Passport Office (additionally, you must return the person’s passport to the UK Passport Agency)

■ Local council

■ Public sector or armed forces pension schemes


Here, we offer a quick overview to help put you on the right path.

3 keys things you must do after someone dies:

  1. Get a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor. You will not be able to register the death without one.
  2. Register the death within 5 days.
  3. Arrange the funeral 


Who do I contact?

If your friend or relative passes away whilst at home you need to call the family doctor responsible for their care immediately. If the person had been ill and the death was not unexpected, the doctor will give you a medical certificate showing the cause of death.

However, if the person had not been in ill health and the death was unexpected, the doctor will report the death to the coroner. This also applies if the doctor had not seen the patient within 14 days of their death.

If your relative dies whilst in hospital, the hospital will take care of issuing the medical certificate and formal notice.

How do I register a death?

When you attend the register office you’ll need to take the medical certificate with you (as detailed above) and, if you can locate them, it will help if you can also provide:

  • NHS number
  • birth certificate
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate.

Before you leave the register office you may wish to buy extra death certificates (note that many organisations will not accept photocopies) because you could find that copies purchased at a later date may be more expensive.

Further Reading:

Money Advice Service

Age UK

British Heart Foundation

This article was written by Fiona Gilbert: Editor
Wise Old Elephant

Hello! I’m Fiona and I work behind the scenes with a fantastic team of independent health, care, legal & financial experts to bring interesting & informative content to the Wise Old Elephant site. Contact: enquiries@wiseoldelephant.co.uk