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If your child died in a hospital or hospice
A doctor will usually give you a certificate giving the cause of
death and a notice explaining how to register the death with the
Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The hospital or hospice
will take care of them until you have arranged to call a funeral
If your child died at home or elsewhere (for example in
Your GP should be called as soon as possible and asked when they
can come and examine your child in order to issue the certificate
giving the cause of death. You will also need to decide whether you
wish your child's body to be laid out at home or transferred to a
funeral parlour. The GP may decide to visit the funeral parlour to
issue the certificate.
You will need to register the certificate of death with the
Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages so you can arrange the
funeral and make any practical arrangements.
Who can help?
If your child died at home, in hospital or elsewhere, you can
access the support of your local children's hospice. Parents have
said support from their local children's hospice has been
invaluable at this time.
Hospices can provide emotional support and counselling, plus
information about other support organisations in your area. They
also provide practical help, advice and information. For example
they may be able to support you with registering the death and
provide guidance about funerals. You can find your local hospice in
the telephone directory or on your local authority's website.
Hospice services may also be able to come to your home. They can
ensure other family members are supported, including siblings, and
may help with things like creating memory boxes.
Your general practitioner (GP), community children's nurse or
community paediatrician may also be able to give you information
about local bereavement services, support groups, and organisations
that offer other support, including practical, emotional and
You will usually need to register the death within five days -
eight days if you live in Scotland. Understandably, parents may
feel this will be too much for them, so a friend or relative who
was there at the death can do this for you.
You can find the address of your nearest register office in the
telephone directory or by searching on your local authority
website. You may need to book an appointment.
What do you need to take with you?
To register the death you (or the person who goes on your
behalf) will need to take the medical certificate of death issued
by the doctor. You will need to give the registrar the following
When you have registered the death
The registrar will give you a green certificate to give to the
funeral director. This allows the burial or cremation to go
They should also give you a certified copy of the entry in the
register (death certificate). You can use this to tell the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or the Social Security
Agency, that your child has died. There is a small fee for
In some areas your registrar may also provide you with the
details of the Tell Us Once scheme - this allows a variety of
government agencies such as social services, the passport office,
and the DWP to be informed about a death at the same time.
If the cause of death is unknown
In these cases a coroner must investigate to find out, for the
benefit of bereaved people and for official records, how someone
has died. This will usually involve holding a post-mortem
If it was not possible to find out the cause of death from the
post-mortem examination, the coroner has to hold an inquest. An
inquest is a public court hearing held by the coroner in order to
establish who died and how, when and where the death occurred.
More information is available at the gov.uk website.