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Register a death

You must register a death within five days of the death unless a coroner is conducting an investigation.

How to register a death

If the death occurs in County Durham, you can register this at The register office at The Story.  

You must attend the register office to register a death. 

Our register office is only open for pre-arranged appointments. You can Book an appointment to register a death online or Contact Registration Service by phone. Please do not visit our register office without making an appointment first. If the death occurred in Darlington Memorial Hospital, or another location in Darlington, you will need to register the death with Darlington Borough Council - Register office.

If the death occurs outside of County Durham, we can take the details of the death (a declaration), but have to pass your information on to the place where the death occurred. Registering a death outside the area where it occurred will result in a delay in you receiving the death certificate and could possibly delay the funeral.

If the death occurs abroad, or on a foreign ship or aircraft, you should register the death according to the local regulations of that country and get a Death Certificate. Also register the death with the British Consul so that a record of the death will be kept in England. Depending upon the circumstances of the death, or if the information about the death abroad is incomplete, this may have to be reported to a coroner in the same way as if the death occurred in England or Wales.

Who can register a death

One of the following persons has a legal obligation to register the death:

  • a relative of the deceased
  • a person present at the death
  • a person arranging the funeral (not the undertaker)
  • in certain circumstances others people, such as the manager of a care home

What you need to register a death

The medical certificate cause of death will have been sent to the registrar electronically, once received an appointment can be made to register the death.

If the death has been referred to a coroner, the coroner's officer will advise you what to do.

You will need to bring supporting documents to confirm the details of the deceased (eg passport, driving licence, birth certificate, marriage/civil partnership certificate, council tax bill, NHS medical card, change of name deed) and also some form of ID to confirm your details, and to prove your identity as the informant (eg passport, driving licence, council tax bill).

How much it costs

Registering the death is free but any certificates required are available for a fee.

What you will get from the Registrar

You will be given a form for the undertaker, and a form for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about state pensions and benefits. Any certificates you require are available for a fee.

You can also tell central government departments about a death in one go using the tell us once service. Find out more from reporting a death using the Tell Us Once service on YouTube.

If the death took place overseas, you will be able to get a copy of the Death Certificate from the Overseas Registration section of the General Register Office:

Overseas Registration Section
Smedley Hydro
Trafalgar Road

Fees for a death certificate

After a death has been registered, one or more certificates may be purchased at the time of registration or at any time afterwards.

Benefits available after a death

The time after a death is the worst time to have to deal with leaflets and forms. Benefits available after a death tells you about benefits you might be able to claim and how any benefits you already receive could be affected.

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