Register a death during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: 22 September 2020

Most registration offices are closed to the public due to coronavirus. But you can still register a death by phone and email without going into an office.

Who can register a death during coronavirus

You can register a death if you:

  • are related to someone who has died
  • were there when the person died
  • are an executor or solicitor of the person who has died
  • lived with the person who died, if they died at home
  • are the funeral director and have agreed to register the death with the family's permission

If you're none of the above, but no one else can register the death, you can register the death as long as you:

  • know the details of the person who has died
  • have the right documents

Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

You cannot register the death without a copy of the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD).

The doctor providing the MCCD will ask which registration office you want to register the death.

The doctor will send a copy of the MCCD by email to both you and the registrar.

The doctor will confirm they've sent the certificate to the registrar. Once they do this you should contact the registrar to start the death registration process. You can contact the registrar by phone or email to set up an appointment to register the death.

Death registration process

You can find out how to contact a registrar on local council websites.

The registrar will ask you for:

  • your contact details
  • information about the person who died including details of their birth and any marriage(s) or civil partnership(s)
  • documents for any relevant life events that took place outside Scotland (can be scans or photos but must be in English or come with an English translation)

The registrar will use this information to create a template of how the death entry will look. They'll ask you to check the information is correct. They can send you this by email or read it out over the phone.

Signing the document

You will not be able to go to the registration office to sign the document. Instead the registrar will ask you how you sign your name. For example using your initial, full first name or in an another format.

They'll write the signature in the relevant space followed by the word 'Transcribed'.

The entry will have the same legal power as one signed in ink by someone.

After registration is complete

Funeral director

The registrar will ask you to confirm which funeral director you'll be using. (This is unless the funeral director is the person registering the death.)

The registrar can scan a copy of the Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14) and send it to the funeral director. This will allow you to make the funeral arrangements. No burial or cremation in Scotland can take place without a Form 14.

If you do not know which funeral director you'll be using the registrar can send the death certificate to you. They can do this by email or by post.

Documents you'll be sent

You'll always be sent an 'abbreviated death extract' (death certificate) and a copy of the registration privacy notice. The extract shows details of the death. The privacy notice tells you how details will be stored, used and protected by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

You can ask for a full copy of the death certificate. There is a fee of £10 per copy. You can pay for this by card over the phone. This will be posted to you.

Tell Us Once

You can also ask the registrar about the Tell Us Once service. This allows you to report a death to many government organisations at once without needing to contact them separately.

Find out more about Tell Us Once.

Further information

You can find out more about registering a death during coronavirus on the NRS website.