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Coronavirus Act: changes to death registration in Northern Ireland

Changes to death registration, enabling modifications to registration processes, have now come into force in Northern Ireland. They will enable death registrations to be carried out without the attendance of an informant at the registration office.

The following changes have been made (information provided by the GRO in Northern Ireland):


Enable a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) or Certificate of Still-birth to be sent electronically to GRO by the Hospital or GP.  GRO will forward these to registration offices. No signature is required on the registration.

  • For all natural causes of death the MCCD can be signed by the following:
  • Medical practitioner (MP) if seen within 28 days or
  • Another MP in the same hospital or GP practice if seen within 28 days or

Any MP if natural causes and not seen within 28 days to the best of their knowledge and belief

The Certificate of Registration (GRO 21) can be emailed to the funeral director from the registration office.


Receiving MCCDs from medical practitioners

  • All MCCDs and Certificates of Cause of Still-Birth will be sent electronically to GRO.
  • The medical practitioner will send the MCCD to along with details of the next of kin and if possible the funeral director’s information.
  • GRO will forward the email to the home address district of the deceased.  We realise that this may not be the office that an informant contacts but GRO will be able to advise on the office the information has been forwarded to and arrangements can be made to obtain the information.

Registrars receiving MCCDs

When you receive the MCCD or certificate of cause of still-birth from GRO you:

  • Will contact the NoK to obtain details for the registration by telephone or email – each registration office will need to implement the process that works best for them;
  • Ask them for the funeral director details;
  • If there is no NoK details there may be funeral director contacts so please contact them for any information;

If you are registering a death with information from the funeral director enter as much details as possible on NIROS.   If the full registration details are not entered please complete the manual table to enable GRO to pass this information on Statistics colleagues to alert them to the number of registrations where full information has not been available.

If there is no NoK or Funeral Director to provide the information the death cannot be registered until someone contacts the office;

Once the death has been registered you can issue the Certificate of Registration (GRO 21) or written notice to the relevant funeral director.

On registering the death, advise the informant that the death has been registered.  Do not print out a certificate unless the informant has paid and asks for one.

If no certificate is printed at time of registration this can be done at a later date or certificate ordered from GRO.  A certificate ordered from GRO will cost £15 – GRO cannot process certificates at reduced fees.  Any death certificates requested from GRO relating to deaths in the emergency period will be charged at £15 but we will arrange a refund of the £7.00 search fee in due course.

Important Notes

There has been a change in who can sign the MCCD (details above) – it does not have to be the doctor who last seen the deceased.

The doctor may not have seen the deceased in the previous 28 days.  In these cases the death does not have to be referred to the coroner.  You should enter a date into NIROS which is within the previous 28 day period, we would suggest the day before the date of death.

GROs have also agreed with the Department of Health that we will accept an MCCD with a text signature (e.g. as long as the name of the doctor is on the MCCD that is acceptable)

Any death that would normally have been reported to the coroner should still be reported (except for those not seen inside the 28 day period)

GRO have agreed with the Coroner’s Office that we will accept all Coroner’s forms with an electronic signature over the emergency period.

Receiving MCCDs from informants

The medical practitioner no longer needs to give the MCCD to the next of kin as it will be emailed to GRO but there will be occasions where the MP still does this.  In the majority of cases GRO will probably also have received this electronically.

If an informant has an MCCD you should get them to send a scan or photograph to you and you should forward this to the NIROS support mailbox to enable GRO to check that an electronic copy has been received.

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