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If a death is referred to a coroner

Deaths do not necessarily need to be the subject of an inquest to be reported to the coroner. Other reasons can include a death from a natural disease or through illness.  

If a death is reported, a certificate giving the cause of death will be sent to the registrar of deaths when the coroner's enquiries are complete. You can then go ahead and register the death

In a small number of cases, where the cause of death is unclear, sudden or suspicious, the doctor, hospital, registrar or police will report the death to the coroner once they are satisfied it is not a criminal matter. In this case the registration of the death will be delayed until the inquest has been held. 


It’s the duty of the coroner to investigate any death reported to them which: 

  • appears to be due to violence or an accident is unnatural
  • is of sudden and unknown cause 
  • occurs in legal custody
  • was due to a Deprivation of Liberty Order. 

An inquest is not a trial. It’s an enquiry to establish who the deceased was and how, when and where they died. 

Although the coroner will preserve confidentiality as far as possible, you should be aware that the system is based on public court hearings. If you request, the coroner will explain the reasons for the procedures adopted in some cases, but only if the coroner is satisfied that you have a proper interest and a right to know.  

After the death, the coroner will issue an interim death certificate to enable the estate to be dealt with. When the inquest is finished, the coroner’s officers will explain to the next of kin how, where and when a copy of the death certificate can be obtained.