When a death is reported to a coroner

A doctor may report the death to a coroner if the:

  • Cause of death is unknown
  • Death was violent or unnatural
  • Death was sudden and unexplained
  • Person who died was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
  • Medical certificate isn’t available
  • Person who died wasn’t seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before death or after they died
  • Death occurred during an operation or before the person came out of anaesthetic
  • Medical certificate suggests the death may have been caused by an industrial disease or industrial poisoning

If the coroner decides that the cause of death is clear

  • The doctor signs a medical certificate.
  • You take the medical certificate to the registrar.
  • The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem isn’t needed.

If the coroner decides a post-mortem is needed to find out how the person died

  • This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary.
  • You can’t object to a coroner’s post-mortem – but if you’ve asked, the coroner must tell you (and the person’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.

If no inquest is needed

  • The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examination and no further examinations are needed.
  • The coroner will send a form (‘Pink Form – form 100B’) to the registrar stating the cause of death.
  • The coroner will also send a ‘Certificate of Coroner – form Cremation 6’ if the body is to be cremated.

If an inquest is required

A coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown or if the person:

  • possibly died a violent or unnatural death
  • died in prison or police custody

You can’t register the death until after the inquest. The coroner is responsible for sending the relevant paperwork to the registrar and can give you an interim death certificate to prove the person has passed away. You can use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate. When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.