When a death is reported to a coroner

A doctor may report the death to a coroner if the:

  • cause of death is unknown
  • death was violent or unnatural
  • death was sudden and unexplained
  • person who died was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
  • medical certificate is not available
  • person who died was not seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before death or after they died
  • death occurred during an operation or before the person came out of anaesthetic
  • medical certificate suggests the death may have been caused by an industrial disease or industrial poisoning

The coroner may decide that the cause of death is clear. In this case:

  1. The doctor signs a medical certificate.

  2. You take the medical certificate to the registrar.

  3. The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem is not needed.

Post-mortems

The coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed to find out how the person died. This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary.

You cannot object to a coroner’s post-mortem - but if you’ve asked the coroner must tell you (and the person’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.

After the post-mortem

The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examinations and no further examinations are needed.

If the body is released with no inquest, the coroner will send a form (‘Pink Form - form 100B’) to the registrar stating the cause of death.

The coroner will also send a ‘Certificate of Coroner - form Cremation 6’ if the body is to be cremated.

If the coroner decides to hold an inquest

A coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown, or if the person:

  • possibly died a violent or unnatural death
  • died in prison or police custody

You cannot register the death until after the inquest. The coroner is responsible for sending the relevant paperwork to the registrar.

The death cannot be registered until after the inquest, but the coroner can give you an interim death certificate to prove the person is dead. You can use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate.

When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.

  1. Step 1 Register the death

    Ask the GP or hospital doctor for a medical certificate. You'll need this to register the death.

    1. Register the death within 5 days

    Check what to do if:

    To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.

  2. Step 2 Arrange the funeral

    When you register the death you’ll get a 'certificate for a burial' to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium. You must do one of these before the funeral can take place.

    1. Arrange the funeral
    2. Find bereavement services from your local council
    3. Get help paying for a funeral
  3. Step 3 Tell government someone died

    The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.

    1. Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
    2. If Tell Us Once is not available in your area tell government yourself

    You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies and landlords yourself.

  4. Step 4 Check if you can get bereavement benefits

  5. and Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes

    Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.

    1. Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your spouse has died
    2. Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
  6. Step 5 Deal with their estate

    You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

    1. Check what to do about wills, probate and inheritance
    2. Update property records