East Lothian Council

Register a death

You are legally required to register a death. The Death Certificate issued to you when you have Registered the death will allow you to deal with the estate including any money or property left by the person who has died. 

How long do I have to register a Death?

Any death in Scotland must be registered within 8 days.

Who can register a Death?

A death can be registered by: 

  • ny relative of the deceased
  • Any person present at the death
  • The deceased’s executor or other legal representative
  • The occupier, at the time of death, of the premises where the death took place
  • If there is no person as listed above, anyone having knowledge of the particulars to be registered. 

Where can I register a Death?

The law allows a death to be registered in any registration district in Scotland.

More details can be can be found on the National Records of Scotland website.

In East Lothian, you can make an appointment to register a death at Haddington or Musselburgh.

What documents do I need to bring with me to register a death?  

You should take with you: 

  • The medical certificate of cause of death (Essential)
  • The deceased's birth and marriage certificate/civil partnership certificate (If Available)
  • The deceased's NHS medical card (If Available)

What can I expect when registering a death?

  • The Registrar will aim to see you as close to your appointment time as possible.  We would not expect this to be any later than 10 minutes.
  • You will be invited into a private interview room where the Registrar will ask you for any information needed to Register.
  • There may be restrictions on the number of family able to be present when the death is being registered due to the size of the interview room.  Please ask when making an appointment.
  • There is no charge to register a death
  • After the death is registered, the registrar will issue the following, free of charge:
    • A certificate of registration of death to give to the person in charge of the burial ground or crematorium
    • A DWP registration of notification of death certificate for use in obtaining or adjusting DWP benefits
    • An abbreviated extract (i.e. excluding cause of death and parentage details) of the death entry
  • A full death extract can be purchased (on payment of the statutory fee) from the registrar at any time.  If the extract is purchased at the time of registration or within 1 month of registration, the fee is £10. 

Please note that any further extracts purchased out with one month of the Registration taking place will be £15 per copy.

Medical review - from 13 May 2015

A new system of medical scrutiny of deaths will be introduced in Scotland from 13 May 2015. This will mean that when you attend the Registrar’s office to register a death your certificate may be selected for review by the Medical Reviewer.

If the review is a level 1 you may only need to wait a few hours before you can register the death, however, if a level 2 review has been selected this could mean a delay, to register, of  up to 3 days. The Registrar will let you know when you attend the office if your certificate has been selected and if so will contact you when the review has been completed.

If the death is selected for a level 1 review the Medical Reviewer will check the Medical Certificate Cause of Death and speak to the certifying doctor. The registrar will contact the informant once the review is complete.

If the death is selected for a level 2 review, in addition to the usual process for a level 1 review the Medical Reviewer will check aspects of the person’s clinical record.  A level 2 review will normally be completed within three working days and the registrar will contact the informant once the review is complete.

The Medical Reviewer may also request that a death is automatically referred for review if it matches the criteria specified by the Medical Reviewer. This is called a ‘For Cause’ review and will be carried out on an ad hoc basis when the criteria has been met.

We do not anticipate that these reviews will cause significant delays to funeral arrangements as Medical Reviewers know that families will be anxious to proceed with arranging the funeral and will do all they can to minimise delays.  

Please also see;

Making an Appointment  

All Death Registrations are by appointment only. 

Appointments can be made in either John Muir House, Haddington or the Brunton Hall, Musselburgh.

Appointments can be made by telephone, e-mail or in person.  Please contact one of our Registration Offices to make your appointment.

Further information

More information can also be found in the leaflet What to do after a death in Scotland.  This gives practical advice for bereaved people and is widely available in registration offices. You can also get a copy by telephoning 0131 244 2193.

Useful information is also available on the NHS Lothian Bereavement Service website.  

Our Advice for the next of kin or representative following the death of a Council tenant is also available 

Further information you need on how to register a death can also be found on the National Records of Scotland website.

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.