What to do first when someone dies

If someone dies at home:

Call the family doctor and nearest relative immediately. If the death was expected, the doctor will give you a medical certificate showing the cause of death. They’ll also give you a formal notice saying they’ve signed the medical certificate and telling you how to register the death. If the person is to be cremated, you’ll need two certificates signed by different doctors.

If someone dies in hospital:

The hospital will usually issue a medical certificate and formal notice. The body will usually be kept in the hospital mortuary under the funeral directors or relatives arrange a chapel of rest, or for the body to be taken home.

Unexpected death

If someone dies unexpectedly, or the family doctor hasn’t seen them in the last 14 days, the death is reported to a coroner. A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. They may call for a post-mortem or inquest. This may take some time, so the funeral may need to be delayed.

Death abroad

If someone dies abroad, register the death according to the regulations of the country and get a consulate death certificate. Register it with the British Consul in the country too, so a record can be kept in the UK.

The Gov.uk website offers two leaflets which explain the practical support British consular staff can offer and what you need to do.

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