If your loved one died at home
If your loved one has died at home and their death was expected, you should call the doctor who will sign a medical certificate confirming the cause of death. If the death occurs outside of doctors opening hours then you need to call either the out of hours GP service or the emergency services.
If the death was unexpected or you do not know the name of the persons GP, you should call the emergency services. A doctor cannot issue a medical certificate if they are unsure about the cause of death. When this happens, the death must be reported to a coroner and the body taken for post-mortem.
You can then contact your chosen Funeral Director. Or your loved one may have had a Funeral Plan with their chosen Funeral Director, so contact them. They will have a 24 hour contact telephone number, so it doesn’t matter what time it is when you phone them.
If your loved one died in hospital
If the death has happened in a hospital, the doctor there will issue the certificate. The hospital will also be able to hold your loved one’s body until you arrange for it to be moved, for example, to a Chapel of Rest. In some cases, the doctor may decide to refer the matter to the coroner.
If you contact your chosen Funeral Director as soon as you can they will then liaise with the hospital about collecting your loved one to then take into their care.
If your loved one died abroad and you are also abroad
If you’re abroad with someone and they pass away, the first steps you need to take are:
- Contact the nearest British Embassy (or High Commision/Consulate)
- If you’re on an organized tour let the organizers know what has happened.
- If you’re staying in a resort let a representative know.
- If you’re not staying at accommodation that is booked under an organization then let the local police know as they will be able to help you get in touch with the nearest British Embassy.
If your loved one died abroad but you are at home in the UK
If your loved one is abroad and has passed away but you are in the UK, the British Consulate is legally obligated to contact their next-of-kin. You may find out from the Embassy itself, or the police force may be instructed to tell you. If another person informs you, for example a holiday representative, then it is important that you contact the Foreign and Commonwealth office. They will then keep you up to date with what’s going on and you can then start to make arrangements.