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Registering a death

How to register a death in Sunderland

A death should be registered within 5 days from when it occurred. The registration should take place in the district where it occurred.

How do I register?

·        Deaths occurring in Sunderland (including the sub districts where council tax is paid to Sunderland City Council) are usually registered at the Sunderland Register Office in City Hall by appointment only.

·        You will need to register the death in person at the Register Office

·        Visit to book an appointment

·        If you live in another district, it is possible for you to attend your local register office to make a legal declaration. This is a slower process, and you will have to wait a few days for the paperwork to be issued and to order certificates.

Who can register a death?

You can register if you are:

·        A close relative

·        Someone who was present at the death

·        Making the arrangements with the funeral director

·        The occupier, matron or owner of a nursing home or the hospital administrator of the premises where the death occurred

What documents do I need?

Legislation allows doctors to scan the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death directly to the register office. Without this document the registration cannot proceed. The Bereavement office at the hospital or your GP should notify you that this has been done.

If the Coroner is involved, they may send paperwork directly to the register office. In this case, the coroner will tell you when to register.

The following documents are useful, but you can register without them.

·        The person's passport

·        Their birth certificate

·        Any deed polls they had

·        Their NHS medical card

·        Their marriage or civil partnership certificate

Information you need to register

·        The person's full name at the time of death and any names previously used, eg maiden name

·        The person's date of birth

·        Their main or current occupation

·        The full name, date of birth and occupation of any surviving or late spouse or civil partner

·        Whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits

How to make a death registration appointment

Book an appointment to register a death online

Alternatively, you can contact Life and family.

What documents will I receive?

·        Death certificates are purchased at the time of registration. You should pay by card. Further copies can be purchased later through our website              

·        A reference number to use the Tell Us Once Service - a free and highly recommended service which will inform government agencies of the deceased's death all in one go. This is included within the registration appointment if you wish. Your registrar will discuss this with you.

·        A certificate for burial or cremation (the green form) - gives permission for burial or application for cremation. This form will be sent directly to Sunderland Bereavement's section by the registrar if the burial or cremation is to take place within the Sunderland authority. If this is not the case the registrar will ask you to take it to the funeral director conducting the service.

Deaths referred to the coroner

·        Deaths referred to the coroner must also be registered, if there has been a post-mortem, the coroner's office will inform you when you can register.  

·        If the coroner decides the death was due to natural causes and no post-mortem is to be held you will need to follow normal procedures by booking an appointment at

·        If an inquest is to be held, the coroner will send the information from the court to the register office so you do not have to come to the register office to register the death. The coroner will keep you informed.

When do you need to register a Stillbirth?

When a child is stillborn, a doctor or midwife will issue a medical certificate of cause of stillbirth. Legislation allows this to be scanned to the register office from the hospital. If you are handed the signed copy, please bring it with you to the appointment as the registration cannot go ahead without it.

Who can register a stillbirth?

If the parents of the child were married or in a civil partnership at the time of the stillbirth, either the birth mother or the father/parent may register. If the parents were not married/in a civil partnership to each other they will need to attend together for the father/parent's details to be recorded.

A certificate of registration will be issued and a certificate for burial or cremation.

Please contact the register office on 0191 520 5553 to book an appointment to register a stillbirth. Or alternatively book online at

Who else do you need to contact?

When someone dies, you may have to contact a variety of organisations to inform them of the death. You may have to send some of them a death certificate.

You can use the following as a checklist to see if you have contacted everyone you need:


Bank/building society                                                                                                                     Benefits agency*

Child benefit office                                                                                                                         Child's school, childcare etc

Church or place of worship                                                                                                          Clubs and social groups

Creditors (anyone owed money by the deceased)                                                                   Council tax office*

Debtors (anyone owing money to the deceased)                                                                     Credit card companies

Dentist                                                                                                                                             Disabled parking permit*

Doctors                                                                                                                                            DVLA*

Employers                                                                                                                                       Home help agency

Hospital clinics                                                                                                                               Household insurance

Income tax office*                                                                                                                         Insurance providers

Internet provider                                                                                                                           Landlord

Library*                                                                                                                                           Life assurance

Mail for redirection                                                                                                                       Mortgage provider

Motoring insurance and breakdown policy                                                                              National savings and investments

NHS equipment                                                                                                                             Passport office

Public pensions schemes*                                                                                                           Premium bond office

Private healthcare provider                                                                                                         Relatives and friends

Solicitor                                                                                                                                           Tv licence

Telephone provider                                                                                                                      Utilities provider - gas, electricity, water

* These providers will be included in the Tell Us Once Service

When someone dies, you may have to contact a variety of organisations to inform them of the death. You may have to send some of them a death certificate. Sunderland Registrars have partnered with Settld to provide a free online form to let you contact non-government companies, from banks to social media providers, in one go. 

Death abroad

If a death occurs abroad (opens new window), or on a foreign ship or aircraft, you should register the death according to the local regulations of that country and obtain a death certificate. Also register the death with the British Consul so that a record of the death will be kept in the UK.

Bereavement Support 

The government have a range of benefits and financial support available to help with costs and funeral expenses after someone has died. Find out more at Benefits and financial support when someone dies.


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