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The Certificate

The Death Certificate

The Death Certificate is the official document registering the death, and is produced by the state based Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to record all deaths that occur in Australia. The Death Certificate is different to the Cause of Death Certificate  given by a doctor at the time of death.

The Death Certificate is needed for legal and financial reasons. The time it takes to receive the certificate from the Registry varies and may take several weeks.

The Registration Application

Your funeral director will ask you for the information required and will register the death after the funeral has taken place.

You will be asked to answer the following questions about the person who has died to complete the registration application. It may help to have their birth and marriage certificates available to give you this information.

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of death (full address of hospital or residence)
  • Residential address
  • Occupation during working life
  • Place of birth (city and country)
  • Marital status at time of death
  • All marriages (place of marriage; city, state & country, full name of spouse, age at the time of marriage)
  • Parents’ names and occupations, including mother’s maiden name
  • Children’s names, dates of birth and ages
  • Place of burial or cremation 
  • Religion (if applicable)
  • Your relationship to the deceased


The Cause of Death Certificate

Arranging a Cause of Death Certificate

Before a Funeral Director can begin arranging a funeral, a “Cause of Death Certificate” or “Life Extinct” form must be completed. In most cases, this is something the funeral director can arrange for you. Depending on where the person dies and under which circumstances, there may be different steps to completing these forms.

Cause of Death

Before a Cause of Death Certificate can be issued, the cause of death needs to be established and a medical certificate issued. There are two categories of cause: Expected or Natural Causes of Death and Unexpected, Accidental or deaths resulting from ‘foul play’.


Expected/Natural Causes of Death

When a person dies at home, their doctor will need to be contacted. If the doctor has seen the deceased within the last three – six months (depending on the state) then a certificate will usually be issued. If the death occurs in a nursing home or private hospital, the nursing staff will normally arrange to speak to the doctor on your behalf. If a death occurs in a public hospital it is normal for the attending doctor at the hospital to issue the cause of death certificate.

Unexpected, Accidental or deaths resulting from ‘foul play’

In the event a doctor is unable to determine the cause of death, it is necessary for the Coroner to be notified - the police or the doctor will do this. The Coroner is a state appointed role and it is their job to establish the facts around a person’s death.  This may include speaking to the doctor, requesting pathologists to inspect the body and carrying out autopsies.

The Coroner will usually be notified in the following situations:

  • The deceased has not seen a doctor in the last six months
  • The probable cause of death cannot be established
  • Deaths caused by fire or other accidents, including road accidents
  • Deaths in the workplace or deaths in a public place
  • The death was sudden and the cause unknown.
  • Deaths related to suicide, homicide, poisoning, alcohol or drugs
  • Unexpected deaths in hospital
  • SIDS (Cot Death) and any other unexpected death that cannot be explained without a post mortem examination.

In any case, your Funeral Director will be able liaise with the Coroner on your behalf.


Everyone of us will have to deal with the death of a loved one at some point in our lives. When it happens you need some helpful advice on what to do.


The cost of a funeral can vary greatly and depends on what sort of ceremony is planned.


After organising the details of the funeral, you will have a few different options in how to pay for it. 

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