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Registering a death

You normally need to register a person's death within five days. When you are bereaved, this can seem like a daunting task.

When and where to register a death

In Northern Ireland a death should be registered within five days, to allow funeral arrangements to be made. This is with the exception of deaths which have been referred to the coroner.

A death may be registered in any District Registration Office in Northern Ireland.

There is no cost for registering a death. The only cost will be for copies of the death certificates if required.

Who can register a death

A death which occurs in Northern Ireland, can be registered by:

  • any relative of the deceased who has knowledge of the details required to be registered (this includes a relative by marriage)
  • a person present at the death
  • a person taking care of the funeral arrangements
  • the executor or administrator of the deceased's estate
  • the governor, matron or chief officer of a public building where the death occurred
  • a person living in and responsible for a house, lodgings or apartments where the death occurred
  • a person finding, or a person taking charge, of the body

Most deaths are registered by a relative of the deceased. The registrar would normally only allow one of the other people listed above to do so if there are no relatives available or they cannot be traced.

What information will I need to provide?

When registering a death, you will need to complete a registration form and provide the medical certificate of the cause of death, signed by a doctor to your local District Registration Office.

You can download the form at the link below.

You’ll need to tell the registrar:

  • full name and surname of the deceased
  • date and place of death and usual address
  • marital status (single, married, widowed or divorced)
  • date and place of birth
  • occupation of the deceased (if the deceased was a wife or widow, the full name and occupation of her husband or deceased husband) will be required
  • if the deceased was a child, the full names and occupation of the father will be required, or where the parents are not married, the full name and occupation of the mother will be required
  • maiden surname (if the deceased was a woman who had married)
  • the name and address of the deceased's GP
  • details of any pension apart from a state pension that the deceased may have held

Documents you will receive

Once the registration is completed, the registrar will issue the following forms:

  • a form GR021 giving permission for the body to be buried or for an application for cremation to be made (if the body is to be cremated, the GP or hospital will arrange for a second doctor to sign the cremation certificate)
  • a certificate of Registration of Death (form 36/BD8), issued for social security purposes.

You’ll be able to buy one or more Death Certificates at this time. These will be needed by the executor or administrator when sorting out the deceased person's affairs.

Death certificates

For deaths registered after 17 December 2012, a short form of death certificate is available. The short death certificate will not show the cause of death.

Death certificates, either short or full, may be purchased from the Registrar at the time of registration for £8 per copy.

After the registration, copies of death certificates can be purchased from the General Register Office at a fee of £15 for the first copy and £8 for each additional copy purchased at the same time.

Certified copies of death certificates

A death certificate can be ordered from the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) in the following ways:

Online

If you have a credit or debit card, you can order a certificate online through nidirect.

By phone

If you have a Visa, Mastercard or Maestro card you can order certificates by phone on:

  • 0300 200 7890 (within the UK) or
  • 44 (0) 28 9151 3101 from outside the UK

You should have your card with you when you ring, as GRO will require your card number and expiry date.

Certificates ordered by phone will be sent out by post or, on request, can be collected from the office.

In person

You can apply in person by taking your application form to the General Register Office (GRO).

The General Register Office
Oxford House
49 - 55 Chichester Street
Belfast
BT1 4HL

The office is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm (excluding public, bank and all Northern Ireland government holidays). Please note that the office opens at 10.00 am on the first Tuesday of each month due to staff training.

District Registration offices

In addition to the GRO, some certificates are available from local District Registration offices. Certificates for deaths registered on or after 1 January 1997 are available from any District Registration Office in Northern Ireland, no matter where in Northern Ireland the event took place.

Applications to district registration offices must be submitted in person so please contact your local office for details of accepted payment methods.

By post

You can post your completed application form and fee to GRO:

The General Register Office
Oxford House
49 - 55 Chichester Street
Belfast
BT1 4HL

Postage charges

The following amounts should be added to your payment to cover return postage costs:

Country one certificate two certificates three certificates four or more certificates
UK 0* 0* 0* 0*
Europe £0.85 £1.33 £1.33 £2.05
Rest of the world £1.17 £1.94 £1.94 £3.14

* £6.15 for guaranteed next day delivery within the UK (£8 for commemorative certificates).

Information required to obtain a copy of a death certificate

  • full name of deceased
  • date and place of death (district or street and town)
  • the usual address of the deceased if different from place of death

For deaths within the last three years the applicant must indicate whether the coroner was notified.

If the death is referred to a coroner

Some deaths are referred to the coroner if the deceased had not been seen within 28 days before death by a doctor, where the death was not caused by natural illness or where the cause of death was unclear, sudden or suspicious.

If a death is referred to the coroner, funeral arrangements should not be made before the consent of the coroner has been obtained. The coroner can give consent for burial or cremation to take place before the death is registered.

The death can only be registered and a death certificate obtained after the registrar has received the necessary certificate from the coroner.

When the registrar receives the appropriate form they will contact a relative of the deceased and ask them to call in at the office to register the death.

Other things that need to be done

Not everything can be done straight away, particularly as this is a very difficult time for people to cope with, but it is important to:

  • make sure everyone who needs to know is told
  • arrange to see the deceased person's solicitor and read the will as soon as possible - this will tell you if there are any special funeral requests and who the executors are
  • start arranging the funeral
  • collect all the information and documents you will need

For more details read our related articles below; included is a checklist to help guide you through the process:

The Bereavement Service

If you need to report the death of someone receiving Social Security benefits, you can do this by contacting The Bereavement Service on the following freephone number:

More useful links