Registering your child’s death

You’ll need to visit the registrar that deals with births, deaths and marriages within five days of your child’s death, or eight in Scotland. Although this is a devastating and surreal time, this process is a legal requirement so make sure you have the support to do it.

Arranging an appointment

Most offices operate an appointment system so call them first to check. You can do this at any register office but if you go to the one in the area that your child died, you should receive the paperwork on the same day.

Either a doctor or the hospital will be able to give you the details of the nearest office. They’ll also have given you a medical certificate of death and a ‘Notice to the Informant’ which you’ll need to bring with you.

Getting support

If you decide to register the death yourself, it may feel daunting when you are shocked and distressed. Ask a family member or friend to support you, even if it’s just to help you with practical tasks like driving to the registrar’s office and waiting with you. It usually takes about half an hour.

The registration can be made by:

  • a relative
  • someone who was present when the death happened
  • the person responsible for the place where the death happened (for example, the hospital)
  • another resident in the same place
  • the person who instructs the funeral director.

If there is no appointment system you can tell the registrar that you are registering the death of your child and you may be able to wait somewhere private.

The documentation you’ll need

The registrar will ask for:

  • A medical certificate of death, signed by the doctor
  • Details of your child’s place of birth
  • Details of your child’s address.

The registrar will give you two documents:

  • A Certificate for Burial and Cremation or the ‘green form’, which you can give to your funeral director
  • A Certificate of Registration of Death

You’ll be able to buy extra copies of the death certificate for a small charge. This price goes up if you want more copies at a later date so it’s worth buying as many as you’ll need at the registrar. They’ll be useful for sorting out the practicalities and will save time waiting for the original to be returned each time it needs to be sent somewhere.

They should also let you know about the government’s Tell Us Once service and whether it’s available in your area. If it is, they’ll give you a unique reference number to use the service by phone or online – this will inform most government departments at the same time.

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