Registering a death with the district registrar
All deaths in Northern Ireland must be registered. 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.
Who can register a death
Most deaths are registered by a relative of the deceased. If the deceased has no relatives or none are available then any of the following can register the death:
- any relative of the deceased – including 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
Information needed to register a death
To complete the registration you will need to know:
- full name and surname of the deceased
- deceased’s usual address
- date and place of death
- marital status (single, married/civil partner, widowed/surviving civil partner or divorced/civil partnership dissolved)
- date and place of birth
- occupation of the deceased
- if the deceased was married/civil partner, full name and occupation of husband/wife/civil partner
- if the deceased was a child under the age of 16, the full names and occupations of the parents
- maiden surname (if the deceased was a woman who had married)
- name and address of the deceased's GP
- details of any NI Civil Service or Teacher’s pension that the deceased may have held
Life Event Certificates in Irish and Bi-lingual English and Irish
The Marriage, Civil Partnership and Civil Registration (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 came into effect on Friday 11 March 2022. It allows certificates for new registrations to be produced with headings in Irish or bi-lingual English and Irish.
When filling in the registration form you can choose to get your certificates in English, Irish or bi-lingual English and Irish.
All certificates produced from the registration will be in the language format selected and cannot be changed. The legislation applies to registrations going forward and will not apply retrospectively to life events already registered which will continue to be available in English only.
Completing the registration
Following a death the doctor or hospital will forward a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death electronically to the General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI). GRONI will forward it to the registration office which covers the deceased’s home address.
The doctor who signed the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death may have passed your details to the registrar so that the registrar can contact you to organise the registration of the death.
The registrar will contact you by telephone to arrange the completion of the registration of the death. This can be over the telephone or if you wish, by attending at the registration office.
The registrar may require you to fill in a death registration form which you will send to the registration office by email or they may get the details from you over the telephone.
Or, the doctor or hospital who completed the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death may give the form to you. In this case you should contact the registration office which covers the area where you live. The death should be registered within 5 days.
There is no cost for registering a death. The only cost will be for copies of the death certificates if needed.
You can download the registration form at the link below.
Find contact details for the District Registration Offices across Northern Ireland.
Documents you will receive
Once the death has been registered, the registrar will issue a Certificate for Burial or Cremation to the funeral director so they can go ahead with the funeral or cremation.
If the body is to be cremated, the GP or hospital will arrange for a second doctor to sign the cremation certificate.
You’ll be able to buy one or more death certificates at the time of registration. These will be needed by the executor or administrator when sorting out the deceased person's affairs.
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 £8.00 per copy.
After the registration, copies of death certificates can be purchased from the General Register Office at a fee of £15.00 for the first copy and £8.00 for each additional copy purchased at the same time.
If the death is referred to a coroner
Some deaths are referred to the coroner, this is usually because:
- the deceased had not been seen by doctor within 28 days before death
- the death was not caused by natural illness
- 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 certificate they will contact a relative of the deceased and ask them to call in at the office to register the death.
Find out more about coroners, post-mortems and inquests.
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
You can find out more, including a checklist to help you through the process at the links below.