In the unfortunate event that a person has passed away, there are three things that must be done in the first few days;
- Get a medical certificate from your GP or hospital doctor (this is necessary to register the death)
- Register the death within 8 days in Scotland. You will then receive the necessary documents for the funeral.
- Make the necessary funeral arrangements.
Register the death
Arrangements for death certification and registration in Scotland changed in 2015.
One of the main benefits was the establishment of the Death Certification Review Service which is run by Health Improvement Scotland.
The review service checks on the accuracy of a sample of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death (MCCDs). An MCCD is a form the doctor completes when someone has died. You can find more information on the Death Certificate Review Service here. Certificates are chosen at random and may mean a short delay before funeral arrangements can be made.
If the death has been reported to the coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) they must give permission before registering the death.
You can register the death if you are a relative, a witness to the death, a hospital administrator or the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.
You can use the ‘Register a Death’ page on the gov.uk website that will guide you through the process. This will also explain the registration process for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Arrange the funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.
Choose a funeral director who’s a member of one of:
These organisations have codes of practice - they must give you a price list when asked.
Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The Humanist Society Scotland (this link will open in a new window - popups must be allowed) can also help with non-religious funerals.
Arranging the funeral yourself
Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council to arrange a funeral yourself.
Funeral costs can include:
- funeral director fees
- things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example, crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
- local authority burial or cremation fees
Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quotes.