When someone passes away in Australia, the executor or next of kin must register the death with Births, Marriages and Deaths in their state or territory. Typically, this certificate is necessary for the administration process after death.
This guide covers how to get a death certificate in Australia and how to register a death, including paperwork and the necessary steps.
Why do you need a death certificate?
Generally, the executor or the next of kin will need a death certificate to administer the deceased's estate properly. For example, a death certificate is sometimes necessary to access bank accounts, life insurance, super and investment funds.
How to register a death
Each state and territory in Australia have their guidelines for registering a death. You can’t register the death until after the burial or cremation. Afterwards, the funeral director will apply for the death certificate on the family’s behalf. Their fees will usually include this service.
To register a death in Australia, you need a Medical Certificate Cause of Death and the death registration form. The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be required before the funeral director can apply for a death certificate.
The paperwork required to register a death varies across Australia. Generally, the funeral director, executor or next of kin will complete the Death Registration form. If there is a cremation instead of burial, the funeral director will submit an Application for Cremation.
When completing the death registration form, there are a few details that you must collect beforehand about the deceased, including:
- Full name and occupation
- Date of birth and death
- Location of birth and death
- If born overseas, the date they came to Australia
- Marriage and relationship information, if applicable
- Full names and dates of birth of their children if applicable
- Full names, dates of birth and occupations of their parents
How to get a death certificate
The funeral director or executor of the estate can’t access the death certificate until after the death is registered. If there’s a coroner involved, the process can take longer because the cause of death is required to provide the official death certificate.
In some instances, an interim death certificate is processed until the official document is ready. This interim certificate is a legal death certificate and includes all important information except for the cause of death. The funeral director usually applies for this document.
Getting a death certificate in Australia is generally easy and shouldn’t take too much time. However, if you’re unsure what to do, we suggest consulting with your local public trustee, funeral director or solicitor who can guide you through the process of registering a death.
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