When a death occurs

What you need to do first

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A death at home

If a death occurs at home, the Doctor who attended the deceased person during their last illness will need to be quickly contacted, so the death can be confirmed and a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death issued.  This certificate may either be issued by the Doctor immediately or made available later from the Doctor's Surgery.

A death in hospital

If a death occurs in a hospital, then it is normally the Doctor attending the patient who would issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.  The Hospital Administrator will advise of where and when the certificate will be made available for collection.

If a death occurs and the Doctor attending the deceased is unable to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, then the Coroner will be advised of these circumstances by the Doctor. 

The Coroner will investigate the death and decide whether to allow the Doctor to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death or, alternatively, request a post-mortem to take place to establish the cause of death.

Sometimes it is necessary for the Coroner to request an Inquest to be held as part of their inquiries.  If an inquest is required, then the Coroner will issue the appropriate certificate for burial or cremation to enable the funeral to proceed.

Removal of the deceased

The deceased person will need to be removed from the place of death and a local funeral director should be contacted (they provide a 24 hour service). If the death was sudden or unexpected and a Doctor is unable to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, then the deceased person will be taken to the city mortuary by council staff who work for the Coroner.

Repatriation of the deceased out of or back to England and Wales

When a deceased person that died abroad needs to be brought back for a funeral, or if a person that died here needs to be taken outside of the country, certain procedures must be followed. If this the case, please view our advice on repatriation.

Registering the death

If the death occurred in Brighton & Hove, it needs to be registered at the Brighton & Hove Register Office.

Arranging the funeral

Following the registration of the death or completion of the Coroner's enquiries, then appropriate arrangements need to be made for a funeral. The council has its own facilities for both cremation and burial.

If you are choosing a funeral director to assist you, check that they belong to a trade association, such as the National Association of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors

Further information or advice about arranging funerals may be obtained by contacting Bereavement Services. See also our advice on coping with bereavement.