A doctor at the hospital or GP will issue a medical certificate that shows the cause of death. This has to be produced before the death can be registered.

How is a medical certificate of death different from a death certificate? The medical certificate of death is a piece of paper issued after someone has died. It details the cause of death and is needed to register the death. The death certificate is given after the death is registered.  

Who can register a death? A number of people can register the death, and who it ends up being usually depends on the circumstances of the death as well as the relatives’ wishes. The person who registers the death is known as the informant.

If the death occurred at home or in a hospital or care home, the informant will be either:

  • someone present at the death
  • a relative
  • the person making the funeral arrangements.
  • an official from the hospital or care home

If the person has been found dead elsewhere, the following people are qualified to register the death:

  • a relative of the deceased able to provide the registrar with the required details
  • a person present at the time of death
  • the person who found the body
  • the person in charge of the body
  • the person arranging the funeral.

The death certificate - Obtain copies of the death certificate, several may be required to cater for each financial institution (banks, insurance companies etc). Copies obtained from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages are regarded as ‘originals’ as opposed to a photocopy of the certificate.


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