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Harpins, a local family run
and owned business, est. 1932

What to do when someone dies


If the death occurs at home, telephone the deceased's GP. If the death was unexpected or sudden, the ambulance staff or police will contact the coroner.

Contact Harpin's, or whichever funeral director you wish to use, who will be able to advise you on what steps to take. You do not need to wait until you have registered the death to contact your funeral director.

In normal circumstances, the doctor who has attended the deceased during their last illness will issue a certificate stating the cause of death. This should be taken to the Registrar. You will need to ring the Registrar to make an appointment (see useful telephone numbers).

Registration of the death
The death will need to be registered at the Registrar's office for the area in which the death has occurred. The death should be registered within 5 days if possible, unless the Registrar extends the period or the coroner is involved.

The following information and documents are required:

  • Medical certificate of cause of death (issued by the hospital, hospice or GP if the death has occurred at home).
  • Medical card of the deceased and their birth certificate if available.
  • The full name of the deceased, their date of birth, place of birth, marital status and occupation.
  • If applicable, their maiden name and the name and occupation of their husband.
  • If the deceased was married, the date of birth of any surviving partner.
  • Type of funeral (burial or cremation).

The Registrar will issue you with:

  • A green certificate of burial or cremation. This needs to be given to your Funeral Director as soon as possible.
  • A white certificate of registration. There are parts of this form which need to be completed by the family and sent to the DSS.
  • The opportunity to buy copies of the entry of death which will be needed for legal purposes such as private insurances, banks etc.

Sometimes the death needs to be reported to the Coroner if it is not possible for the doctor to issue a certificate. The majority of deaths reported to the Coroner are discovered to be from natural causes.

In any of the following circumstances the Coroner may be involved:

  • If the person has not been seen by a doctor within the 14 days before death.
  • An injury or accident.
  • An industrial disease.
  • During a surgical operation.
  • If the cause of death is unknown.
  • If the death was sudden.

  • Procedures for registering the death differ when the Coroner becomes involved. Should this be the case, your funeral director will offer additional advice and information as necessary.