Many deaths referred to the coroner do not require investigation if it is determined that the cause of death is natural. Referrals to HM Coroner are usually made by a doctor (GP or hospital doctor), police or occasionally the registrar. If the coroner allows the doctor to issue the medical certificate of cause of death this will be collected from the doctor’s surgery or hospital in the usual way.

It may sometimes be necessary for a post mortem examination to take place, the coroner’s officer will inform you of this. If the cause of death is determined to be natural and there are no other circumstances requiring an inquest, the coroner’s office will issue a document instead of the medical certificate of cause of death and this permits the registration of the death. This document will be sent directly to the registrar. An appointment can then be made with the registrar.

If the cause of death remains unknown or unnatural the coroner is required to hold an inquest. If the coroner decides to hold an inquest, the death cannot be registered in the usual way. The coroner will normally issue the necessary documentation to allow a burial or cremation so the funeral can take place. In order to assist the administration of the estate, an Interim Certificate of Fact of Death is issued. This will usually be accepted by Banks, Building Societies etc.