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What to do when someone dies

Knowing what to do when someone dies can help prepare for the event and alleviate further stress when the time comes.  When someone dies there are various steps that need to be completed within certain timescales, such as knowing who to inform, for example. Our useful step by step guide addresses the main arrangements that need to be made when someone dies.

Obtaining a medical certificate

A medical certificate is required to register a death.  Sometimes the circumstances surrounding the way a person dies can alter the way the medical certificate is obtained.

Obtaining a medical certificate when the death occurred at the hospital

When a person dies in a hospital it is normal procedure for the body to be taken to the hospital mortuary.  A hospital doctor will issue the medical certificate provided that the death was not subject to unusual circumstances.

sad lady on beach thinking about what to do after her husband died

Obtaining a medical certificate when the death occurred at home or in a nursing home

If the death occurred at home or in a care home or nursing home you should inform a doctor at the first opportunity. The doctor will visit, and they can issue a medical certificate provided there are no unusual circumstances.

Obtaining a medical certificate when HM coroner becomes involved

If the death is sudden or has taken place under unusual circumstances then you must contact the police and ambulance services immediately. If the circumstances mean that a doctor cannot issue a medical certificate then HM Coroner will become involved. The body will then be transported to the hospital mortuary. Often a post-mortem will be requested. As a result, the medical certificate cannot be issued until the cause of death has been established.

How to register a death

To register a death you must inform the local authority where the death occurred. This must take place within 5 days in England and Wales or 8 days in Scotland. If HM coroner is involved you must inform the local authority because it may not be possible to register the death within these timescales.

Obtaining a certificate for cremation or burial

When the death is registered the registrar will issue a certificate (also known as a ‘green form’) to authorise either a burial or cremation. Once you receive the certificate you must pass it to us so that the funeral arrangements can be finalised.

Making funeral arrangements

As soon as the death has been registered and we have received the certificate authorising either burial or cremation the funeral arrangements can commence.

Where to register a death

The death must be registered in the district in which the person has died, the Funeral Director will advise you which register office you will need to go to.

Bath and North East Somerset Offices
Call: 01225 477234

High Street


Opening times:

Monday – Wed: 8.50am – 4.20pm
Thursday: 9.30am – 4.20pm
Friday: 8.50am – 3.40pm

Keynsham Library & Information Service
Keynsham Civic Centre
Market Walk
BS31 1FS  

Opening times:
Tuesday: 9.30am – 4.20pm
Thursday: 9.30am – 4.20pm

Royal United Hospital,
Ground Floor
Bath & Wessex House
Department E12
Combe Park
Bath, BA1 3NG  

Opening times:
Tuesday: 9.30am – 4.20pm
Thursday: 9.30am – 4.20pm

Midsomer Norton Library & Information Service
The Hollies, High Street
Midsomer Norton
BA3 2DP  

Opening times:
Wednesday: 9.30am – 4.20pm
Friday: 9.30am – 3.40pm

North Somerset Offices
Call: 01823 282 251

Town Hall
Walliscote Grove Road
BS23 1UJ

Opening times:
Monday – Friday:
9am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm.

Tickenham Road
BS21 6FW

Opening times:
Monday – Thursday: 9am – 2pm
Friday: 9am-12.30pm

Bristol Offices
Call: 0117 922 2800  

The Bristol Register Office
The Old Council House,
Corn Street

Phone lines are open: 
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6pm.
Closed Wednesday 12pm – 1.30pm

Southmead Register Office
Southmead Hospital
Brunel Building
BS10 5NB

Phone lines are open: 
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6pm.
Closed Wednesday 12pm – 1.30pm

Contact Michael W. Rowe Funeral Directors

For further guidance and support about what to do when someone dies please call Michael W. Rowe Funeral Directors on 01275 332565.