Unexpected Death at Home

Dealing with the arrangements following the death of a family member or friend can be very confusing and stressful. The following guide aims to ease the burden and help you in this challenging and difficult time.

What to do when some dies at home unexpectedly

If someone falls seriously ill or dies unexpectedly you should immediately phone 999. The operator will tell you what to do to see if the person can be resuscitated and call an ambulance and/or the police. When ambulance staff arrive they will try resuscitation or else will confirm that the individual has died.

When a death is unexpected the police will also be informed, who will come to the house and will arrange for the body to be moved on behalf of the coroner for further investigations and possible post mortem examination may take place to find out the cause of death. 

The police might want to examine the place where the death took place. It’s often not immediately obvious whether someone has died due to natural causes or as a result of an accident or a criminal act. Prior to the police arriving:

  • don’t disturb the surrounding area, other than what is essential in trying to help the person
  • if it’s clear that the person is dead, don’t touch anything.

Once the police arrive, they can give further information on how the area should be treated. Police will ask questions to establish what has happened.

Care of the body

Once the person has been pronounced dead the police will arrange the body to be transferred to the coroner’s mortuary. You cannot choose your own funeral director or request the body to be transferred to a mortuary of your choice.

Coroner’s case

The coroner will investigate the cause of death by collecting information from the next of kin, GP and other health care professionals who may have been looking after the deceased.

When a death is reported to the office, the Coroner will consider the information and do one of three things:

  1. Give the GP permission to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and then take no further action.
  2. Order a post mortem examination. 
  3. Depending on the results of the post mortem the Coroner will
    1. Find the death natural and close the case.
    2. Open an investigation, where further information from doctors or others involved will be obtained.
    3. Open an inquest, a fact-finding court hearing about the circumstances of death.                             
  4. Open an inquest without a post mortem examination

You won’t be able to register the death until the coroner has confirmed the cause of death and is satisfied that there is no criminal act, this may cause a delay in the funeral.

Medical certificate

If the coroner agrees for the deceased’s GP to issue a death certificate then the GP will issue a medical certificate (MCCD) that confirms the cause of death and email it to the registry office in the borough the person died in. The medical certificate of cause of death is for the purposes of registering the death only. If however a post mortem is performed and the coroner identifies the cause of death and establishes the death is by natural causes they will issue a notice known as ‘Pink Form B‘ (form 100B). This form shows the cause of death so that the death can be registered and will be sent to the registry office.

Register the death

After the medical certificate (MCCD) or the notice Pink Form B has been sent by the doctor or coroner contact the town hall registry office to register the death, this is usually performed by the relative of the deceased but can be anyone who was present at the death. A telephone appointment would be need to be arranged either by phoning the office or booking online via their website.  Please see our ‘Find the Registry Office’ search facilities to locate the register office.

The appointment available may not be for a few days. We recommend that you book the first available appointment online via the registry office website, pay the necessary fees for the death certificate and then phone the registry office as soon as possible and ask for an urgent telephone appointment to register the death for religious reasons. You do not need to attend the registry office.

The following information is required:

  • Full name (maiden name or any previous names if applicable)
  • Place and date of birth
  • Place and date of death
  • Last address
  • Occupation
  • Full name, date of birth and occupation of their spouse
  • Email address of the funeral service to which the burial certificate should be sent

In the event of a death registration over the weekend, bank and public holidays the out of hours service should be contacted.


Once you have registered a death, you will be given two certificates:

  • The Certificate for Burial gives permission for burial (green form) which should be given to the funeral director (this will be emailed to you and to the funeral directors if you provide them with the email address)
  • The Death Certificate (BD8), required for settling the estate of the deceased. (this will be posted to you or can be collected from the registry office). You can buy more than one copy of the death certificate, as this is needed for the will and any claims to pensions, savings or insurance.


If an inquest is to take place the coroner may give you an Order for Burial (Form 101) and an interim death certificate so that the funeral can take place. This may be done before the inquest is completed, provided the body is not required for further examination. You do not need the Certificate for Burial (green form) or register the death in this case. The Coroner will send a death certificate after the inquest has been completed, stating the cause of death, to the registrar office. This allows the death to be registered.

Arranging the funeral

After the death has been registered, you can complete the funeral arrangements. If the deceased did not explicitly plan their funeral before their passing, responsibility of arranging the funeral often falls to relatives or close friends.

If you have engaged a funeral director to care for the body, they can offer advice and assistance on funeral arrangements including:

  •  washing
  • shrouding
  • janazah salah
  • transport to the burial ground

There are many decisions to be made when arranging a funeral including:

  • choosing a cemetery
  • purchasing a burial plot
  • book a date and time of the funeral
  • who to invite


We should do our best to bury the deceased as soon as possible, but on many occasions there are delays due to circumstances beyond our control. This is a time for patience and to turn to Allah for assistance and forgiveness.