Deaths referred to the coroner

The Coroner investigates:

  • violent or unnatural deaths
  • cause of death is unknown
  • any death which may have occurred in custody or otherwise in state detention

In certain circumstances, a death is referred to the coroner for further investigation.

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Sudden death

When a sudden or unexpected death occurs, the Coroner must establish the medical cause of death. Enquiries will be made with the deceased's doctor to ascertain if the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death can be issued by them or whether the cause of death must be established through a Coroner's Post Mortem Examination.

A post mortem is a medical examination of the deceased carried out for the Coroner by a pathologist usually at a local hospital. During this time the deceased is under the Coroner’s jurisdiction and will remain so until the Coroner releases the body, when the funeral arrangements can be made.

Removal of the deceased to a hospital mortuary

We are responsible for providing the Coroner’s Service on the Isle of Wight and we use a local funeral director who act for the Coroner to remove the deceased from the place of death to the hospital mortuary. You may use the firm that provides this service to arrange the funeral, or you are free to choose another if you prefer. The firm carrying out the removal is permitted to leave a business card but they are not allowed to sell themselves in any other way to you.

After the post mortem

Once the medical cause of death has been established the funeral can take place. If the death is found to be due to natural causes, the body will be released immediately after the post mortem examination, and the Coroner’s Officer will let you know so that the funeral arrangements can be made. If the death is not due to natural causes, an inquest will be necessary and the Coroner’s Officer will give you further details about what will happen next.

Registering a death after the post mortem where no inquest is held

The Coroner will send a form to the register office giving details of the cause of death. To register the death you will need to make an appointment to see a Registrar. You can make an appointment by calling 01983 823233.

How to register a death after an inquest

The Coroner will arrange for the death to be registered, normally within a few days of the inquest. There is no need for you to go to the register office.

The registrars will write to you advising how to order and pay for any copy death certificates needed.

If you have any concerns about the arrangements for a post mortem, the release of the body of the deceased or any other part of the process, please contact one of the Coroner’s Officers on 01983 823010 during office hours Monday to Friday.

Who should register a death

You can register a death if you:

  • are related to the person who has died
  • were with the person when they died
  • live at the place the person died and there is no known relative to register
  • are instructing the funeral director

You may bring a friend or relative with you when you see the Registrar. The Registrar will see you in private and will ask questions about the person who has died. You will be asked to check the information given and to sign that it is correct.

You will be asked for the following information:

  • date and place of death
  • full name of the person who has died, and any other names used
  • their name before they were married, if this was different, and any other names used
  • their date and place of birth 
  • their occupation and marital status, (if they were married, widowed or had formed a civil partnership) the full name and occupation of their spouse or civil partner
  • their usual address and postcode
  • date of birth of the surviving spouse or civil partner (if applicable)
  • national Health Service medical card, if you have this
  • whether they are in receipt of a pension paid from Government funds (i.e. NHS, Civil Service)

The person registering will also be asked their relationship to the deceased and their name and address. If you wish to purchase copies of the death certificates, please ensure you bring cash or a card to pay for these.

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