Telling friends and family
If you’re responsible for telling friends and family about the death, bear in mind that the way you deliver the news is important. You might be able to tell some people over the phone or by writing to them, while you will want to tell others face to face. Be wary about using social media – it can be useful for spreading the word about the funeral or sharing memories, but a lot of people won’t want to learn about a death this way. Dying Matters and Marie Curie have some guidelines on how to break the news of a death.
Telling government and local council departments
You should do this as soon as possible after receiving the death certificate. The Tell Us Once service, which operates in most areas of the UK, lets you notify most government organisations in one go. If it’s available where you live, the registrar will tell you about it when you register the death and give you the contact details and a unique reference number.
If you’re using the Tell Us Once service, you’ll need to have some information about the person who died to hand – for example, their date of birth, National Insurance number, and passport number.
If Tell Us Once doesn’t cover your area, you need to inform:
- HM Revenue & Customs to deal with taxes
- the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to cancel any benefits, including their State Pension. They can also check if you now qualify for any benefits or help with funeral costs
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if the person who died drove or owned a car
- the Passport Office to cancel their British passport
- your local council to deal with council services, such as the electoral register, Blue Badge and Housing Benefit
- any public sector or armed forces pension scheme they had.
There may be other organisations you will need to tell, such as the Immigration Office, embassy or Office of the Public Guardian, if someone held lasting power of attorney or if they are a deputy for the person. If they had a non-British citizenship, you may need to tell the Home Office or the relevant embassy.
If they were leasing a vehicle through the Motability Scheme, you'll need to tell them too. There's a form for doing this on their website.
Who else to tell
Who you need to tell will depend on the circumstances of the person who died, but could include:
- their employers and colleagues
- their landlord or mortgage provider
- anyone providing medical care, such as a GP or optician
- home carers or day care centres
- anyone making deliveries, such as milk or newspapers
- utility companies
- banks, building societies and credit card providers
- insurance companies
- pension providers.
The Bereavement Advice Centre offers a Death Notification Service, which will inform up to 10 organisations about the death on your behalf. This can include any of the organisations listed above. The organisations might contact you once they've been notified if they need more information.
- For advice on how to tell other people about a death, visit Marie Curie.
- If you need help telling organisations about a death – for example, social services or insurance companies – visit the Death Notification Service.
- For more information, see our factsheet What to do after a death.
- For further support, see our guide Coping with Bereavement.