UK Death Records Search Procedure
Finding the death record of someone who died in the UK can be relatively straight forward or it can be challenging. Before you begin to search, it is helpful to have the name of the person for whom you are searching, the approximate date of death and where in the UK that person died. Once you have that information, there are several ways for you to track the death record.
If you are searching for a death that occurred in England or Wales before July 1837, no central record was kept. Your best bet is to start with the local parish records of where the deceased is buried, if you know. After 1837, information began to be collected on a national basis. As such, your search may prove a great deal easier.
Two sets of Death Certificate indexes exist in the UK. The original is held by the local register office where the death occurred. If you know exactly where the death you are researching took place, it may be much easier to start with the local office as they will have far fewer certificates to search through.
The second set of death certificates, for England and Wales, are kept at the General Register Office (GRO). Each certificate is assigned an Index Reference Number (IRN). Keeping in mind that the GRO has tens of millions of death certificates, knowing the IRN will make your search considerably easier and faster. If you need to find the IRN, many of the deaths between 1837 and the early 1960s have been transcribed and are available online. You can also find full sets of the IRN on microfiche at the larger libraries.
Searching for a death certificate in Scotland or Northern Ireland is slightly different. While it is still helpful to have the name and approximate date of death, rather than the location of the death you should try to discover the person’s religious denomination. The GRO for Northern Ireland only has death certificates since 1864; the GRO for Scotland since 1855. Again, it may prove easier to search the local parish records if you have a sense of where the death occurred.
Ordering a death certificate can be sped up by applying in person. In Northern Ireland, the address is Oxford House, 49 – 55 Chichester Street, Belfast. In Scotland, head over to New Register House, 3 West Register Street, Edinburgh.