What to do after a death in Scotland - practical advice for times of bereavement: revised 11th edition 2016 (web only)

General information on what to do after someone dies in Scotland and about succession and inheritance law. See https://www.mygov.scot/bereavement-benefits/ for the latest information about benefits.

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7. Cremation or burial

The decision on whether to have a cremation or a burial will depend on a number of factors such as the person's own wishes, the views of the executor, the wishes of the person's next of kin and family, and the costs involved. If a death has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal, he will usually allow the body to be released for cremation or burial after establishing the cause of death. The Procurator Fiscal has to authorise the release of the body and written permission must be obtained before a cremation can be carried out. A form called an E1 is used and can be collected from the Procurator Fiscal's office. The funeral director will be in contact with the Procurator Fiscal and will be able to advise about when to make the funeral arrangements.

Note that burial or cremation cannot take place until the death has been registered and a certificate of registration of death issued by the registrar has been produced and provided to the cremation or burial authorities.

To arrange a burial or cremation you will need the following:

Burial, regardless of Procurator Fiscal involvement.

  • Certificate of registration of Death (Form 14)
  • Application for Burial

Cremation, no Procurator Fiscal involvement

  • Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14)
  • Application for Cremation (Form A)

Cremation, Procurator Fiscal involvement

  • Certificate of registration of Death (Form 14)
  • Procurator Fiscal's Certificate (Form E1)
  • Application for Cremation (Form A)

If someone dies abroad

If someone dies abroad (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and you want to arrange a funeral in Scotland, you will need to get authorisation from the Death Certification Review Service run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

The review service is responsible for checking relevant paperwork and authorising burial or cremation of people who have died outside of the UK and have been returned to Scotland.

The process

The person applying for authorisation to bury or cremate must supply the review service with the following:

  • a completed application form
  • the death certificate or equivalent (issued by country where the person died)
  • the certificate of registration of death (issued in country where the person died)
  • passport (or equivalent identification)
  • a completed Form A for cremations only (application for cremation), and
  • any other relevant paperwork.

To apply for this, take or send the documents to:

Death Certification Review Service
NHS 24
Norseman House
2 Ferrymuir
South Queensferry
EH30 9QZ

Electronic copies can be emailed to the review service dcrs@nhs24.scot.nhs.uk

One of Healthcare Improvement Scotland's Medical Reviewers (all of whom are experienced doctors) will review the application to make sure that the funeral can be carried out safely.

England and Wales and Northern Ireland have different systems and forms in place to the system in Scotland. If a death occurs in England, Wales or Northern Ireland then the death must be registered in the country where the person died. You will also need authorisation for the removal of the body from the country of death from the appropriate authorities and cremation certificates signed by the family doctor and another doctor who will charge for this. Note there will be charges for this, even if the death happened in hospital.

Normally this procedure will be undertaken on your behalf by the funeral directors who are making the funeral arrangements.

Alternative formats and further information available on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website: Healthcare Improvement Scotland - Resources and Publications.


Most crematoria are run by a local authority. The charges usually include the medical referee's fee and use of the chapel, and may include the chaplain's fee for a short service.

The ashes

Ashes can be scattered in a garden of remembrance, or a favourite spot chosen by the dead person, buried in a churchyard or cemetery or kept in an urn. It is important to make quite clear your wishes about the ashes. If no wishes have been expressed, it is the responsibility of the crematorium staff to contact the relatives before disposal. Arrangements can be made for the placing of a memorial plaque at the crematorium.


Find out if the person had already paid for a lair in a churchyard or cemetery, by checking the will (see section 10) and looking through their papers for the necessary documents. You should give these to the funeral director. If not, you will have to buy one. Ask the funeral director how to arrange it.



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