Arrangements following a death
When a Death Occurs
If the Death occurs in hospital, the hospital staff will contact the person named by the deceased as next of kin. The hospital will keep the body in the hospital mortuary until the executor arranges for it to be taken away and will arrange for the nearest relative to collect the deceased's possessions.
If the Death was expected, contact the doctor who attended the deceased during their final illness. If the doctor can certify the cause of death he or she will give you the following:
- A Medical Certificate that shows the cause of death (this is free of charge and will be in a sealed envelope addressed to the registrar)
- A Formal Notice that states that the doctor has signed the Medical Certificate and tells you how to get the death registered.
If you discover a body or the Death is sudden or unexpected, you should contact the following people:
- The Police and ambulance service (who will help find the people listed below if necessary)
- The family doctor (if known)
- The deceased's nearest relative
- The deceased's minister of religion
If there is any reason to suspect that the death was not due to natural causes, do not touch or remove anything from the room. The death may be referred to the coroner. The doctor may ask the relatives for permission to carry out a post-mortem examination. This is a medical examination of the body which can find out more about the cause of the death and should not delay the funeral.
Reporting a Death to a Coroner
In any of the following circumstances the doctor may report the death to the coroner.
- An accident or injury
- An industrial disease
- During a surgical operation
- Before recovery from an anaesthetic
- If the cause of death is unknown
- The death was sudden and unexplained, for instance, a sudden infant death (cot death)
You will be advised if the death has to be reported to the Coroner, in which case the death cannot be registered nor the funeral take place, without the Coroners Authorisation. Where a death is reported to the Coroner, the Coroner's Office will contact the relatives.
A Coroner can order a post-mortem examination without getting the relative's permission. This examination will ascertain the cause of death. He may also wish to hold an investigation into circumstances leading up to a death (this is called an inquest). When an inquest is called, the Coroners Office will contact the relatives. This should not cause undue distress as it is a legal formality.
In such cases the Death Certificate will be issued direct to you from the Coroners Office and the relatives must then go to the Registrar to register the death. When an inquest is to be held, the death cannot be registered until the conclusion of the inquest, but a certificate will normally be issued at the opening of the inquest to allow the funeral to take place.
For Hastings and Rother, the Coroner can be contacted on 01424 723030 (Coroners office) or via Police incident desk telephone 0845 6070999
More information about the Coroner can be found on the Home Office website.
Registering a Death
The death must be registered in the District Register Office where it occurred.
The Register Office for Hastings and Rother is located at;
The Registrars Office operate an appointment system - please telephone the office.
9am - 5pm Monday to Friday
Please call for appointments
It is also possible to make a declaration to register the death before any Registrar in England and Wales to be posted to the Register Office for the district where the death took place. If you choose to do this there could well be a delay in the funeral arrangements and in receiving documents.
Home visits to register a birth, death or still birth are entirely at the discretion of the Registrar, and are subject to many and varied criteria. Please contact Registrar for further details.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a death should be registered within five days of its happening. Registration can be delayed for a further nine days provided the Registrar receives, in writing, confirmation that a medical certificate of the cause of death has been signed by the doctor.
People with legal responsibility to register death include:
- A relative of the deceased
- A person present at the death
- A person arranging the funeral - This does NOT mean the funeral director.
In certain circumstances others, such as the administrator of an elderly persons home, can register a death, for advice please contact the Register Office.
You will need the medical certificate of cause of death issued by the doctor treating the person who has died. This is essential - the Registrar can do nothing without it. If the death has been referred to the Coroner, the Coroner's Office will advise you what to do. If the deceased received a pension or allowance from public funds, eg. Civil Service or Army Pensions, please inform the Registrar.
This information will then be written into a register. This is the original legal record and you should check it through very carefully before signing it, as any mistakes discovered later on may be difficult to correct.
You will be given a 'Green Form' which enables you to arrange the funeral (if the Coroner is involved different procedures may apply) and a form for Social Security purposes. Both of these documents are issued free of charge.
A death certificate can also be purchased from the Registrar.
Please see our page Funeral Arrangements for information about Funeral Directors.
Tell Us Once
Us Once is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.
Agencies that can be notified through the scheme include those responsible for:
- State benefits such as
o Income Support
o Jobseeker's Allowance
o Pension Credits
o Council tax
o Housing benefit
- The electoral register
- Disabled blue badges
- Bus passes
- Driving licences
A registrar will explain the Tell Us Once service when you register a death. If you would like to use Tell Us Once, they will then either:
- complete the Tell Us Once service with you
- give you a unique reference number so you can use the service yourself online or by phone.
The registrar will give you a number to call. This includes a video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users and Relay UK if you cannot hear or speak on the phone.
Find out more about Tell Us Once, including what information you need and how to use the online service on the Government's website.
Arrangements following a death