It is necessary to register a death with the local authorities in the country where the person died.
It is also possible to register the death with the UK authorities in many countries.
The following rules apply if you live in England and Wales.
Reporting the death
It is possible to use the HM Revenue and Customs The Tell Us Once service to report a death to most of the government organisations at the same time.
This service is available if the person who died:
- Normally lived in England, Scotland or Wales.
- Was abroad temporarily (for example, on holiday or a business trip).
Contact a register office to use Tell Us Once service. They will either:
- Complete the Tell Us Once service.
- Provide a unique reference number to allow the use of the service online or by phone.
If it is not possible to use the Tell Us Once service, it will be necessary to inform the various organisations about the death directly.
Bringing the body home
To bring a body home it is necessary to:
- Get a certified English translation of the death certificate.
- Get permission to remove the body, issued by a coroner (or equivalent) in the country where the person died.
- Tell a coroner in England if the death was violent or unnatural.
It is helpful to read information about the country where the person died to find out about any other requirements.
Contact a register office
Once the body is home, the death certificate must be taken to the register office in the area where the funeral is taking place.
As the death has already been registered abroad, the registrar will give you a ‘certificate of no liability to register’. This document should be given to the funeral director so the funeral can go ahead.
If the funeral is not being arranged by a funeral director, give the certificate back to the registrar within 96 hours of the funeral.
When a coroner will be involved
A coroner will usually hold an inquest in England or Wales if the cause of death is unknown or if it was sudden, violent or unnatural.
A 'form Cremation 6’ certificate from the coroner will be required if the deceased is to be cremated.
Bringing ashes home
When leaving a country with human ashes you will normally need to show:
- The death certificate.
- TThe certificate of cremation.
Each country has its own rules about departing with human ashes and there may be additional requirements. Read information about the country where the person died to find out what you need to do. A standard customs form will need to be completed on arrival in England, Wales or Scotland.
Contact the airline to find out whether the ashes can be carried in hand luggage or not. They may need the ashes to be in a non-metallic container so they can be x-rayed.
The body should not cremated abroad if a coroner at home will need to conduct an inquest into their death.
Register the death to:
- Get a ‘certificate for a burial’ required by the funeral director or an application for cremation required by the crematorium.
- Stop or change benefits payments:
- Tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.
- The HM Revenue and Customs Tell Us Once service informs all the relevant government departments at the same time when someone dies.
- Check eligibility for financial support:
- Guardian’s allowance, bereavement and other benefits.
- Check if changes are required to surviving spouse/civil partners:
- Benefits, pensions and taxes.
- Right to live in the UK.
- Find out if there is a will.
- Find out if there are funeral instructions.
- Arrange the funeral.
- Inform the deceased’s banks, utility companies, landlords or housing associations, etc. of the death.
- Check if Inheritance Tax is payable/reportable.
- Apply for probate.
- Deal with the estate:
- Collect the estate assets.
- Pay any debts or taxes owed by the deceased.
- Distribute the estate as set out in the will or the law.