Registering a Death
New arrangements for the certification and registration of deaths in Scotland were introduced on 13 May 2015. This included the establishment of an independent review service run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
There are two main types of review. For Level 1 reviews, the medical reviewer will check the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD or more commonly known as the death certificate) and speak to the certifying doctor. This should take one working day.
In addition to these reviews, there will be a smaller number of Level 2 reviews where the medical reviewer will speak to the certifying doctor and also check relevant medical records. This should take up to three working days.
The system randomly selects about 10% of all deaths for Level 1 review, with additional Level 2 reviews. This does not include sudden or suspicious deaths, which are reported to the Procurator Fiscal, or stillbirths. This means that around 6,000 MCCDs will be reviewed each year out of the approximately 55,000 deaths that occur in Scotland annually.
If the MCCD you bring to the registrar is selected for review, but the funeral has to take place within a certain timescale, you can apply for advance registration. This may be due to religious beliefs and traditions. If you wish to make an application for an advanced registration, please inform the registrar when you attend to register the death. An application form is attached but it is not essential to complete this prior to attending the registration office.
Interested person review
If you have questions or concerns about the content of the MCCD after speaking to the doctor, or if these occur to you at a later stage, you can ask Healthcare Improvement Scotland to carry out an interested person review.
The arrangements for burial and cremation of a person who has died outside of the UK, and will be returned to Scotland, changed on 13 May 2015.
Who can Register a Death in Scotland?
The death can be registered by:
- Any relative of the deceased, or
- Any person present when the person died, or
- The deceased’s executor or other legal representative, or
- The occupier of the property where the person died, or if there is no such person,
- Anyone else who knows the information to be registered.
How and Where do I Register a Death?
Any death which occurs in Scotland must be registered within eight days of the date of death by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The law allows a death to be registered in any registration district in Scotland.
You can obtain the address of the local registrar from, the hospital, the doctor, the telephone book (see under ‘Registration of Births, Death and Marriages’) and the Directory of Registrars in Scotland.
The opening hours of registration offices vary between local authorities and some operate an appointments system. You should therefore check with the relevant local authority before attending an office. Please note that a burial or cremation cannot take place before the death has been registered.
What Documents should I take to the Registrar?
You should take with you:
- The medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD);
- The deceased’s birth and marriage certificate;
- The deceased’s NHS medical card;
- Any documents relating to the receipt of a pension or allowance from government funds.
Provided you have the medical certificate of cause of death, do not worry if any of the other documents are not available as the registrar can still proceed to register the death.
When the registration is complete the registrar will give you, free of charge:
- A certificate of registration of death for production to the person in charge of the burial ground or crematorium. This should be passed to the funeral director as soon as possible;
- A Social Security registration or notification of death certificate for use in obtaining or adjusting Social Security benefits.
- An abbreviated extract (i.e. excluding cause of death and parentage details) of the death entry.
You can obtain a full extract of the death entry for a fee. It is advisable to obtain a few extra copies of the full extract, as a number of insurance companies, housing associations and other agencies usually request sight of an original copy to close the deceased’s affairs/estate.
Other Useful information
The Scottish Government booklet “What to do after a death in Scotland” is available on the Scottish Government website, gives practical advice for bereaved people and is widely available in registration offices. You can also get a copy by telephoning 0131 244 2193.
For any further advice or information relating to Registration please call one of our office where an experienced member of staff will be on hand to assist.