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:
The doctor signs a medical certificate.
You take the medical certificate to the registrar.
The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem is not needed.
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.