Registering a neonatal death and/or birth

It’s difficult to think about practical matters, such as registering a neonatal death. We hope you find this information useful at this difficult time.

When do I register a neonatal death?

Every neonatal death in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be registered in the district in which it takes place, normally within 5 days.  You must register the death within 8 days in Scotland. 

There may be a delay if there is a post-mortem examination.

Registering your baby’s birth

You need to register your baby’s birth before registering their death. If you haven’t done this already, you may be able to do both at the same time. All births in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be registered within 42 days of the child being born. 

You should do this at the local register office for the area where the baby was born or at the hospital before the parent who gave birth leaves. The hospital will tell you if you can register the birth there.

If you cannot register the birth in the area where your baby was born, you can go to another register office. They will send your details to the correct office.

GOV.UK has more information about who can register a birth in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are different rules for registering a birth in Scotland. 

Who can register a neonatal death?

Either parent, together or separately, can register your baby’s death. You do not have to be married.

If neither parent can register the death, another relative, someone else who was present at the death, or a member of the hospital staff can register.

In Scotland, only the mother can register the death if the parents are not married. However, it may be possible to add the other parent’s name later. Your registrar can tell you more. 

Where can I register my baby’s death?

Find your local district registrar in Northern Ireland.

Find your local register office in Scotland.

Find your local register office in England and Wales.

If you cannot get to the district where the death took place, you can speak to another registrar. They will record the details on a form of declaration and send it to the registrar for the district where the death took place. 

What documents do I need?

This may vary, depending on where you live. But you will need some form of ID, such as a passport or driving licence. 

You will also need the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, given to you by the hospital.

When the death has been registered, the registrar will issue an ‘After Registration’ certificate for the burial or cremation. A funeral can’t happen until this certificate is given to the burial authority or the crematorium. 

If a death has been reported to the coroner, they may issue a certificate for burial or cremation where possible.

If you need to hold the funeral sooner

The death of your baby usually needs to be registered before the funeral can take place. But if you need to hold the funeral sooner for religious reasons, most registrars will help you by registering the death out of normal office hours. Ask the hospital staff for information about arranging urgent registration.

More support and information

  • Child Bereavement UK provides specialised support, information and training for everyone affected when a baby or child dies, or when a child is bereaved. It also runs an online forum for bereaved parents.
  • The Compassionate Friends is run by and for all bereaved parents.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care provides support, information, advice, education and training to help anyone who's been bereaved to understand their grief and cope with their loss. 
  • The Lullaby Trust provides specialist support for anyone after the sudden death of an infant.
  • Petals provides specialist counselling after baby loss. 
  • Sands is run by and for parents whose baby has died, either at birth or shortly afterwards.
  • Winston’s Wish supports children and families after a parent, brother or sister has died.

 

Review dates
Reviewed: 20 May 2022 | Next review: 20 May 2025