What We Do When Death Occurs

What to do when a death occurs

What to do when a death occurs

People carrying a coffin

Here to help you through your difficult times

It is hard to deal with the death of someone you love. Albert Parr & Sons Ltd is here to guide and support you through the funeral arrangements, giving you the time and space needed to grieve for your loss. 

To begin, when a death occurs you should consider the following aspects:
  • Where did the death occur?
  • Did he or she register for organ or body donation?
  • And lastly, registration of the death

Where did the death occur?

If death occurred in the hospital

When a death occurs in the hospital or nursing house, the staff will arrange for the deceased to be moved to the mortuary. Before we can do this, we need to obtain a 'Removal Order' from the family. Once this is completed we can contact the hospital to arrange collection of the deceased and transfer to our chapel of rest in Beckenham.

The hospital may seek your permission to carry out a post-mortem, you do not have to agree on this, it's a personal choice. In Northern Ireland, the coroner may order the hospital to carry out a post-mortem, in which case you will have to agree. For details and advice about post-mortem, including details about the retention of tissue or organ samples, please call National Bereavement Partnership on 0845 226 7227.

You will also need to collect the person's personal possessions from the hospital and enquire with the hospital staff about the issue of the medical certificate. This is usually done by a hospital doctor or their GP. The medical certificate, mentioning the cause of the death, will be handed over in a sealed envelope that is addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This service is not charged.

In case of cremation, a second doctor will be needed to sign a certificate that the deceased has been examined. This service will be charged.

If death occurred at home

When someone dies at home, you will need to call their GP. The GP will visit the house and if the death was expected, will be able to issue a medical certificate stating the cause of the death. If the person did not have a GP, or if you do not have the contact details of their GP, you will need to call for an ambulance.

If the doctor is unsure of the cause of the death, the death must be reported to the coroner and the deceased will be taken to a hospital mortuary for postmortem.

If the death took place somewhere abroad

When a death takes place abroad, it must be registered according to the laws of that country. The death should also be reported to the British Consulate of that country so that they can arrange for the death to be registered in the UK as well.

When the deceased is returned to the UK, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district where the funeral is to take place will need to be informed to issue a certificate of death before the burial can take place. In case of cremation, you will also need permission from the Home Office.

If the cause of the death is not known or it wasn't due to natural causes, the coroner of the district will need to be informed and an inquest may need to take place. In Northern Ireland, the family can request the coroner to arrange a post-mortem or an inquest.

Please note: While returning the deceased to the UK may be expensive, the cost can be covered by the travel insurance. If the death occurred during a package holiday, the tour operator should be able to help with arrangements.

Donation of organs for transplant, or the body for medical research

Donation of organs

The person who died might have wanted to organs for transplant. The process is a lot simpler if they were registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, carried a donor card and had discussed the donation plans with their family. Even  if the person is registered for organ donation, the relatives will be required to give their consent. Organ donations also come from patients who died on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit. 

For more details about organ donation and transplantation, please contact The NHS Organ Donor register.

UK Transplant 
Freepost (SWB 1474) 
Bristol BS34 8ZZ 
Phone: 0845 60 60 400 

Donation of the body for medical education or research

Some people wish to leave their bodies for medical education or research and anyone who wants to do this needs to make arrangements before they die and tell their relatives. 

When the person dies, relatives in England and Wales should contact the Human Tissue Authority who will advise on what should be done. If a body is accepted (and many bodies are not suitable) the medical school will arrange for eventual cremation or burial. 

Finlaison House 
15-17 Furnival Street 
London EC4A 1AB 
Phone: 020 7211 3400 
Fax: 020 7211 3430 

In Northern Ireland, you need to contact the Professor of Anatomy.

Professor of Anatomy 
Department of Anatomy 
Queens' University Belfast 
Medical Biology Centre 
97 Lisburn Road 
Belfast BT9 7BL 
Phone: 028 9024 5133

Registering the death

The registration of the death is a formal record of the death issued by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages of the particular district. Please look for the nearest register office in the telephone directory.

If the death took place in the house: it should be registered at the register office for the district where they lived.
If the death took place in a hospital or nursing home: it should be registered at the register office of the district in which the home or hospital is situated.

In England and Wales, you can go to the nearest or most convenient office to register the death and the details will be passed on to the correct office. Please note that some of these offices have an appointment system so check the opening hours of the office you wish to go to.

A death should be registered within five days, but can be delayed for another nine days if the registrar is notified that a medical certificate has been issued. If the death has been reported to the coroner you cannot register it until the investigations are finished. It is a criminal offence not to register a death.

The death certificate is a copy of the entry made by the registrar in the death register. This certificate is needed to deal with money or property left by the person who has died, including dealing with the will. You may need several copies of the certificate, for which there will be a charge.

Who should register the death?

A death should be registered by a relative who was present during the death or by a relative present during the person's illness or last days (This could be a relative living in the district where the death took place, anyone else present during the death, an owner or occupier of the building where the death took place and who was aware of the death, or the person arranging the funeral.).

The responsibility of registration cannot be delegated to anyone else or done by the funeral director

Details and documents required for the registration of death

Required documents:
  • Medical certificate of death
  • Birth and marriage certificate of the person
  • NHS medical card of the person
Required information:
  • Date and place of death
  • The full name of the person, including their maiden name - in the case of a woman who was married or widowed, full name and occupation of her husband
  • Their last address
  • The person's date and place of birth 
  • The person's occupation
  • The date of birth of their husband or wife 
  • Details of whether the person was receiving a pension or any other social security benefits


When you have registered the death, the registrar will give you a green certificate (for which there is no charge) to be given to the funeral director. The green certificate gives permission for either burial or cremation of the body. Occasionally, where no one has yet been able to register the death, a registrar may be able to issue a certificate for burial only (but not cremation).
The registrar will also give you a form that needs to be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (In Northern Ireland it is the Social Security Agency). This form allows them to deal with the person's pension and other social security benefits.
When a death occurs, you can count on Albert Parr & Sons Ltd to help you with the funeral plans and arrangements and registration of the death.
Call our team in Beckenham on 
020 8650 2141. We also serve Croydon.
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