certification of death
Last edited 03/2021 and last reviewed 03/2021
How to fill in a death certificate
If you are a registered medical practitioner and were in attendance during the deceased's last illness, you are required under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to certify the cause of death. You must state the cause or causes of death to the best of your knowledge and belief. If you judge that the coroner may need to be informed
There are three kinds of certificate:
- i) Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (form 66): Any death occurring after the twenty-eight days of life should be certified using the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
- ii) Neonatal Death Certificate (form 65): Any death of a live-born infant occurring within the first twenty-eight days of life should be certified using the Neonatal Death Certificate.
- iii) Certificate of Still-birth (form 34): Any death of an infant that has issued forth from its mother after the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy and which did not breathe or show any other signs of life at any time after being completely expelled from its mother should be certified using the Certificate of Still-birth
You are legally responsible for the delivery of the death certificate to the registrar. You may do this personally, or by post, or you may ask the relative or other person who is able to give information for the death registration to deliver is as your agent. Envelopes for the purpose of delivering certificates are available from the registrar
Before arranging the delivery of the death certificate to the registrar, please ensure that you also complete the 'Notice to informant'. This notification must be handed to the relative or other person responsible for registering the death
You should complete the counterfoil for your record in all cases.
PERSONAL DETAILS OF DECEASED
- Age - you should record the age of the deceased in completed years or,
if under one year, in completed months
- Place of Death - you should record to the best of your knowledge the precise place of death (e.g. the name of the hospital or the address of a private house or, for deaths elsewhere, the locality). This may not be the same as the place where you are completing the certificate. It is particularly important that the relative or other person responsible for registering the death is directed to the registrar of births and deaths for the sub-district where the death occurred, unless (from 1st April 1977) they have decided to make a declaration of the details to be registered before another registrar
CIRCUMSTANCES OF CERTIFICATION
- Last seen alive by me - you should record the date when you last saw the
deceased alive, irrespective of whether any other medical practitioner saw
the person alive subsequently
- Information from post-mortem - you should indicate whether the information
you give about the cause of death takes account of a post-mortem. Such information
can be valuable for epidemiological purposes
- if a post-mortem has been done, ring option 1
- if information may be available later, do not delay the issue of your certificate, ring option 2 and tick statement B on the reverses of the certificate. The registrar will then send you a form for return to the Registrar General giving the results of the post-mortem
- if a post-mortem is not being held, ring option 3
- Seen after death (only one option can be ringed) you should indicate, by ringing option a, b or c, whether you or another medical practitioner saw the deceased after death
- Manchester City Council (2007). Death Certification Guidance for doctors certifying cause of death.
- Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust (Accessed 22/6/12). Medical Certificate of Cause of Death Notes for Doctors