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Direct Cremation Paperwork is Unavoidable – What do I Need?

Nick Weinstein<span> • </span><span style="font-size:0.9em; font-weight:400;">Lead Funeral Specialist</span>
Nick WeinsteinLead Funeral Specialist


Administrative tasks are bewildering in normal circumstances and can be even more so when a close relative or friend passes away.  To help you navigate the paperwork needed to process the death of a loved one, we have compiled below the information required by the authorities and the forms that will need to be filled out in order to arrange a direct cremation.

The good news is that there is really only one form that you will personally need to fill and sign while the rest will be filled by doctors, registrars, and so on.  The other bit of good news is that we at NEO Cremations will help you fill out that one form and most of the time, all you have to do is just sign it, making the whole process effortless. 

Which forms do I need?

Death Certificate – In order to arrange a cremation or funeral, you will need to obtain the certificate of death from the Registrar’s Office.  You can register the death at any Registrar’s Office, but you will receive your documents on the same day if you apply in the area where the death happened.  Many offices operate on the basis of appointments so please contact your local Registrar’s Office to book a time.  If you cannot physically go to a Registrar’s Office, you can also apply online here.  The death must be registered with the Registrar’s within 5 days (8 days in Scotland).  While it is best practice to have all your paperwork in order, you are only required to submit one of two forms when registering a death: a Medical Certificate issued by a doctor; or Form 6 completed by a coroner.  Once the application has been received, the Registrar’s Office will issue you with a “Certification of Registration of Death” (also called the Death Certificate) along with the Green Certificate. While registering a death does not cost anything, obtaining a copy of the Death Certificate costs £11 in England and Wales, £10 in Scotland, and £8 in Northern Ireland.

Medical Certificate (or called “Cremation 4”) – This is issued by the doctor who was tending to the deceased before and at the time of death.  To arrange a cremation, the doctor will need to fill out Medical Certificate 4. A second doctor, whose job is to verify the information provided by the first, will examine the body and speak to the doctor and one other person present at the time of death.  The second doctor will then complete Medical Certificate 5. Both certificates will be completed by the doctors and do not require your input. But the doctors will need to be paid and the certificates cost £164 in total (£82 for each form). Those certificates are needed by the Registrar’s Office to issue the Death Certificate.

Form 6 – In some instances the death is investigated by a coroner, in which case you will receive a Certificate of Coroner, or Form 6.  There are a number of reasons this might happen and you may be asked to cooperate in an investigation. If a coroner is involved, you do not need to get the medical certificates (Medical Certificate 4. & 5.) mentioned above and you do not need to pay a £164 fee. Form 6 is issued free of charge.

Green Certificate – The official name of the Green Certificate is the Certificate for Burial or Cremation.  This certificate grants permission to proceed with the cremation and is issued free of charge by the Registrar’s Office.  

So far, all the paperwork that has been mentioned is processed, filled out and arranged by professionals (e.g. medical professionals, government officials, registrar’s office workers). Besides providing details of the deceased and your relationship to the deceased, you do not need to fill out any of these forms. The only form you will need to fill is Form 1.

Cremation Form 1 – Once you have received the Green Certificate, you can complete the Application for Cremation: Form 1.   At NEO Cremations, we will fill out Form 1 for you and send you a completed form for your signature. All you have to do is verify that the information is correct, sign the form and send it back to us. We will then liaise with the crematorium and get the process for cremation started.

Cremation Form 10 – This form does not require any involvement on your part and the cost is included in the cost of the cremation.  It serves as the final medical authorization for the cremation to proceed and is conducted by a doctor at the crematorium just before the cremation takes place.

Cremation Certificate – The Certificate of Cremation will confirm the date of the cremation and the identity of the deceased’s ashes.  This form will be completed within one working day after the cremation and we will hand it to you at the same time we are returning the ashes.  If you plan on bringing the ashes abroad, you will need to bring both the Cremation Certificate and the Death Certificate in order to cross a border with your urn.


What are supporting paperworks needed to register the death?

Whilst it is not necessary to have all the documents listed below, the registrar’s office will ask you for a subset of those documents when registering the death.  It is helpful to have on hands the deceased’s::

  • Birth Certificate
  • Council Tax Bill
  • Driving License
  • Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate
  • NHS card
  • Passport
  • Proof of residence (such as a utility bill)

You should also be able to provide the following information:

  • The full name of the deceased at the time of death
  • Any previous names they might have used
  • Their place and date of birth
  • Their most recent address
  • Their occupation
  • Any benefits or State Pension they were receiving

Do not worry if you do not have all that information on hands at once. The registrar’s office is used to dealing with grieving families and will help and guide you. Likewise, NEO Cremations is here to also help and guide you and we have never been in a situation where we haven’t been able to collectively find a satisfactory solution to any missing paperwork.

To summarize:

  • Receive Medical Forms 4 & 5 from the doctor who was caring for the deceased.  If the death is investigated by a coroner, you will receive Form 6 instead. Medical Forms 4 & 5 will cost £82 each or £164 in total. Form 6 is free of charge.
  • Bring the medical certificate(s) to register the death with the Registrar’s Office.  Please be sure to do this within 5 days (8 days if in Scotland) of the death.
  • Once you have registered the death, you will receive the Death Certificate as well as the Green Certificate.  Depending on where you register the death, a copy of the Death Certificate will cost between £8 and £11.
  • You will need to sign Cremation Form 1 before handing it to your funeral director who will liaise with the crematorium.
  • Finally, you will receive a Certificate of Cremation along with the ashes of the deceased.

For reference, the NEO Cremations website is a good resource that lists all the forms you will need. Our staff will also guide you through the entire administrative process.  We complete the paperwork on your behalf so you are free to focus on what matters, whether it is being with family or organizing an intimate ceremony.  For thoughts on how to commemorate the memory of the deceased, please see our Celebration of Life guide. Regardless of how you decide to proceed, we hope this guide has helped you to gain a clearer view of the administrative process.  While it certainly helps to have all your papers in order, there is no need to fret if you are missing some pieces of information, we are here to help and it is our job to make sure everything goes smoothly.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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