Bereavement Advice

Registering a death

A death which occurs in Northern Ireland can be registered in any District Registration Office and should be registered within five working days, to allow funeral arrangements to be made. This is with the exception of deaths which have been referred to the coroner. There is no cost for registering a death. The only cost will be for copies of the death certificates if required.

Who can register a death?

A death which occurs in Northern Ireland can be registered by:

  • any relative of the deceased who has knowledge of the details required to be registered (this includes a relative by marriage)
  • a person present at the death
  • a person taking care of the funeral arrangements
  • the executor or administrator of the deceased's estate
  • the governor, matron or chief officer of a public building where the death occurred
  • a person living in and responsible for a house, lodgings or apartments where the death occurred
  • a person finding, or a person taking charge, of the body

What information will I need to provide?

When registering a death, you will need to complete a registration form and provide the medical certificate of the cause of death, signed by a doctor to your local District Registration Office.

You’ll need to tell the registrar:

  • full name and surname of the deceased
  • date and place of death and usual address
  • marital status (single, married, widowed or divorced)
  • date and place of birth
  • occupation of the deceased (if the deceased was a wife or widow, the full name and occupation of her husband or deceased husband) will be required
  • if the deceased was a child, the full names and occupation of the father will be required, or where the parents are not married, the full name and occupation of the mother will be required
  • maiden surname (if the deceased was a woman who had married)
  • the name and address of the deceased's GP
  • details of any pension apart from a state pension that the deceased may have held

Documents you will receive

Once the registration is completed, the registrar will issue the following forms:

  • a form GR021 giving permission for the body to be buried or for an application for cremation to be made (if the body is to be cremated, the GP or hospital will arrange for a second doctor to sign the cremation certificate).
  • a certificate of Registration of Death (form 36/BD8), issued for social security purposes.

You’ll be able to buy one or more Death Certificates at this time. These will be needed by the executor or administrator when sorting out the deceased person's affairs.

Death Certificates

For deaths registered after 17 December 2012, a short form of death certificate is available. The short death certificate will not show the cause of death.

Death certificates, either short or full, may be purchased from the Registrar at the time of registration for £8 per copy.

After the registration, copies of death certificates can be purchased from the General Register Office at a fee of £15 for the first copy and £8 for each additional copy purchased at the same time.

Dealing with bereavement

Bereavement is a very personal and complex experience. It is increasingly recognised that no two people respond the same way to the losses associated with the death of a loved one. People's reactions to a death are influenced by such factors as ethnic or religious traditions; personal beliefs about life after death; the type of relationship ended by death (relative, friend, colleague, etc.); the cause of death; the person's age at death; whether the death was sudden or expected; and many others. In addition, the death of a loved one inevitably confronts adults with the fact that they too will die.

Bereavement counselling is a specialised type of counselling that involves supporting individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one. This counselling helps them work through their grief as well as perhaps learn coping mechanisms to help them when they are on their own. Bereavement counselling is recommended for anyone, of any age, whose loss seems overwhelming or whose life is being adversely affected by their grief.

Support groups and organisations

You may find that the support of others helps at this time. There are bereavement care and support groups, which some people find both comforting and useful.


  • 028 2565 0000 (Ballymena)
  • 028 7032 0000 (Coleraine)