Registering a death

A Doctor Referral Form to the Coroner should be used by Doctors completing a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, where discussion is required with the Coroner's Office, or making a report of a death where the Coroner has a statutory duty to investigate. Doctor referrals can no longer be made by phone.

Unless the Coroner is involved, you must register the death within five days at any of our offices in Cambridgeshire (which may not be your closest). You must ideally be a member of the family. If this is not possible it should be someone who was present at the death, the person instructing the funeral director or the occupier of the premises in which the death occurred.

Booking an appointment to register a death

Please use the online form below to book an appointment with the registrar if the death occurred in Cambridgeshire.

If the death occurred outside Cambridgeshire, you can still register the death by declaration which means we take the information from you and send the paperwork to the relevant county who will issue the paperwork. This will cause a delay to the arrangements. Please telephone 0345 045 1363 to make an appointment to register a death by declaration.

All offices operate on an appointment basis. Please be prompt for your appointment. If you are more than five minutes late you may have to make another appointment. Please remember to bring your debit / credit card to pay for the certificates you require. Reception services are only available in Cambridge.

Please ensure you read and answer the questions carefully to ensure we are able to complete the appointment as wrong information may result in you having to re-book.

During your appointment

You will need to tell the registrar:

  • the person's full name at time of death and any names previously used, including maiden surname
  • the person's date and place of birth (town and county if born in the UK and country if born abroad)
  • their last address
  • their occupation
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving spouse or civil partner
  • if they were getting a state pension or any other state benefit

Documents you will receive afterwards

If a post-mortem is not being held, the registrar will give you a certificate for burial or cremation (called the 'green form'), giving permission for the body to be buried or to apply for the body to be cremated.

Death certificates cost £11.00 each, please have your debit/credit card with you for payment. If you need to apply for certificates at any stage after attending your appointment please see our certificates and family history webpage.

Any correction requested to a death entry will have to be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of £75 or £90 (dependent on whether the correction can be done locally or has to be referred to General Register Office). Any correction application must be made in the district where the event occurred. We therefore request that you check the register page very carefully before signing to avoid the need to make corrections.

Tell Us Once

The council offers local residents help to notify central or local government when they have had a family bereavement. You can find more about Tell Us Once on the GOV.UK website. The registrar will give you a unique reference number so that you can tell different government departments and agencies about the death either online or by phone.

Registering a death "out of hours" - please read carefully

If, for religious reasons, the physical burial is taking place before the next working day then where possible the registration service will try and assist with relevant paperwork around other operational needs. If the burial is arranged for 3pm, or later, then it is more likely that they will be able to do so.

Please note that paperwork from the Registration Service is not required for a body to be released from a mortuary nor for funeral rites and ceremonies (without the actual physical burial) to take place.

The qualified informant must await actual confirmation from the GP surgery / hospital / hospice that the death is not being referred to the Coroner and that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) has already been completed and signed. It is not enough to be told that the MCCD “will be done” as details from it are required.

An “out of hours” service is available in exceptional circumstances, such as where the burial is actually taking place before the next working day, provided the legal requirements to register can be met – based on best efforts. Where possible the on-line booking and or calling the Contact Centre should only be the route used, and remember the same rules apply around the MCCD mentioned above. Where this is not possible (for example the death occurs on a Saturday evening and the physical burial will take place on the Sunday afternoon) then a call can be made to Police 101 (if the Council’s Contact Centre is closed) between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Due to current COVID easements at present email and telephone can be used to facilitate the legal requirements (when these are no longer in place the qualified informant will have to attend a face to face appointment to register, which may not be the closest one).

Please do not simply turn up without an appointment at any of our locations, as continued COVID restrictions in our Council premises could mean we have to send you elsewhere or to come back later.

Please take a look at the examples below (all with no Coroner involvement), which might also help clarify the matter further:

1. Death occurs on Friday at 5pm. Informant has MCCD at 9am on the Saturday.

a. Physical burial is booked to take place at 3pm on the Saturday.

i. Call contact centre when they open on the Saturday morning

b. Physical burial is booked to take place at 3pm on the Monday

i. Go online to check and book a death registration appointment for the Monday

ii. If none available anywhere call contact centre when they open on the Monday morning

2. Death occurs on Saturday at 6pm. Informant has MCCD at 8pm on the Saturday.

a. Physical burial is booked to take place at 3pm on the Sunday.

i. Call Police 101 after 8am on the Sunday morning

b. Physical burial is booked to take place at 3pm on the Tuesday

i. Go online to check and book a death registration appointment for the Monday or Tuesday

ii. If none available anywhere call contact centre when they open on the Monday morning

3. Death occurs on Tuesday at 9am. Informant has MCCD at 8pm on the Tuesday.

a. Physical burial is booked to take place at 3pm on the Thursday.

i. Go online to check and book a death registration appointment for the Wednesday or Thursday

ii. If none available anywhere call contact centre when on the Wednesday

Body donation

Body donations are highly valued by staff and students at medical schools. A donated body can be used for a number of purposes, which may include:

  • Anatomical examination - teaching students or healthcare professionals about the structure and function of the human body
  • Research - scientific studies to improve the understanding of the human body
  • Education and training - training healthcare professionals on surgical techniques

Find out more from Human Tissue Authority information on donating a body.

Moving a body

There is no restriction on moving a body within England and Wales, but you need to tell the coroner for the district if you want to move a body to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, or overseas. To do this you will need to fill out a form, which you can get from a coroner.

You will need to give the completed form to the coroner, along with any certificate for burial or cremation. The coroner will let you know when the body can be moved - usually after four days. However, in urgent situations, the whole process can usually be fast-tracked.

If somebody dies abroad, there is no need to register here. You can obtain information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.