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Find out how to register a death - 2015

Why important

Registering a death is a task that we are all obliged to undertake, sooner or later when family members or friends die. The sadness of the occasion means that this should be as efficient and stress-free as possible.

Date of assessment


All county councils and districts in Northern Ireland (28 councils in all). Note: this service is also provided by single-tier councils, but not tested in this survey in the interests of maintaining survey balance.


Two-thirds of councils in this small sample handle this task well.

Find your council report

Check ‘coverage’ to see if your council has been surveyed. Go to councils page and select your council. Look for link to task report under 2016-17 results

Headline results


Achieved standard

The standard
  • At least 9 questions from 13 answered 'Yes'
  • Question Q164 must be answered 'Yes'
  • Question Q174 must be 'No' (content must not be out of date)
  • Promotion of task rated satisfactory or very good
  • Customer journey rated satisfactory or very good



NB Question highlighted in red is an ‘essential question’ that must be answered correctly for the council to meet the standard for this task. Questions highlighted in blue affect star ranking

Questions to be answered "Yes"
Does a site search return the correct result listed in the first five results? 100%
Does the home page lead me directly to the task? 71%
Does the site explain clearly the process of registering a death? 100%
Can I book an appointment with the registrar online 79%
Am I told what documents to bring to the appointment 89%
Am I told who can register a death 93%
Is there clear information about the cost of copy certificates at point of registering death 71%
Can I find clear directions to the registrar's office using public transport 14%
Is there a phone number readily available if I need assistance? 75%
Does the site promote 'Tell us once?' 79%
Does a Google search lead me to the task? 100%
Does the service landing page provide a prominent link that goes directly to this task? 100%
Is there an entry in the A to Z index? 79%
Would you recommend that other councils look at this implementation as an example of good practice? 36%
Out of date information, answered 'No'
Did you come across any out-of-date information about this task? 0%
How effectively is this council promoting this as a task?
How effectively is this council promoting this as a task? 2.6
Overall, how do you rate the journey plus task completion?
Overall, how do you rate the journey plus task completion? 2.5

Task report

Good practice

Finding the task

  • Find the task by entering ‘council name’ register a death into Google (or other search engine).
  • Provide a direct link from the births, marriages and deaths landing page.
  • Make sure that the site search works for any valid search terms for this task such as ‘register a death’ and that the best result is at the top of the list.
  • Take visitors to the same page from any site search result.
  • Take visitors to the same page from any A to Z entry.
  • In two-tier areas, signpost the task from all district council sites in the county.

Completing the task

  • As this task takes place at a deeply stressful and upsetting time, the content needs to be very clear and with the right tone of voice.
  • Make sure that information is absolutely clear about when and where to register a death and who can do it. This should be early in the journey.
  • Cover special circumstances such as deaths reported to a coroner and still births. Provide links to support groups, where appropriate.
  • Make it clear that registering a death is free of any charge.
  • Provide clear information on the Tell Us Once service early in the journey and link to more information where appropriate so that people can decide if they want to use it.
  • Provide clear information about obtaining copies of death certificates, and the costs involved (both at the time of registration and later on).
  • Provide signposting to all methods of booking an appointment.
  • Provide an online appointment booking service and make sure the link to this is prominent and early in the journey.
  • Link from the online booking form to Tell Us Once information in case people have landed directly on the form.
  • Indicate how long people may have to wait for an appointment.
  • Provide comprehensive details of the documents that should be taken to the appointment.
  • Provide a printable checklist of the documents.
  • Provide an easy-to-read list of the questions that will be asked at the appointment so that the person can be prepared.
  • Provide comprehensive information on how to get to the office including parking and public transport.
  • Provide contact details for people who may have further queries, e.g. postal address, email and phone number for the service.
  • Provide a route for more help if a visitor has come to your site in error (e.g. death occurred outside council area).
  • Provide information in case of emergencies outside normal hours.

Poor practice

  • The site gives the impression that you have to pay to register a death.
  • There are technical issues with the appointment form not loading and giving errors.
  • As a result of design errors the customer journey for the task increases stress for the visitor.
  • The site locates the service where people might not expect to find it, e.g. Community and Living.
  • No contact details are provided for the service.
  • There is confusing or missing information on what you need to take with you to the appointment.
  • There is a lack of information on Tell Us Once and the benefits of using this service.
  • The site does not provide any details about how to get to the registrar's office.

Reviewer's tip

This was done well on all the sites I reviewed. The best offered online appointment bookings and also referred to ‘Tell Us Once’. All gave good information about who can register a death, where and what you need to take with you, and clear details of the cost of certificates.

Sites that we recommend

Surrey CC

Comprehensive content including travel directions by public transport.

Hertfordshire CC

Well-written clear content which covered the main questions.

North Yorkshire CC

Good clear information, with online appointment booking – another very strong scenario. Clear, comprehensive and functional.

Oxfordshire CC

Excellent, informative information.

Further information

We assessed this task primarily using the council’s search facility.



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