New Regulations on short-form death certificates will assist families coping with the difficulty of losing a loved one


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New Regulations on short-form death certificates will assist families coping with the difficulty of losing a loved one

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (Wednesday, 6 August 2014) confirmed that death certificates where cause of death is not included will shortly be available as an option to people seeking such certificates. 

This will apply only to short-form death certificates and will in no way affect the Register of Deaths or impact in any way on the compilation, extraction and publication of vital statistics.

It is a legal requirement in Ireland that every death that takes place in the State must be recorded and registered. These are recorded in the Register of Deaths held by the General Register Office.

Deaths are registered in the Register of Deaths in two ways:

  • following a medical certificate of cause of death issued to a relative by the attending registered medical practitioner, or
  • following a coroner’s certificate issued to the local registrar. 

In both cases, the cause of death must be stated by the coroner or medical practitioner, if it is known (cases where cause of death is not known are very rare).  These procedures will not change and the full particulars of the cause of death will continue to be recorded in the register of deaths.

Under the Civil Registration Act 2004 what is commonly referred to as a full or long-form death certificate is actually a “certified copy of an entry in the Register of Deaths”. The full death certificate will continue to show all the information that it currently does, including cause of death.

Under the regulations which the Tánaiste has now signed, it will be permissible to issue a short-form certificate which will exclude the cause of death.

The Tánaiste said: "The only change being made is that people may, where they feel it necessary, obtain a short-form certificate which will not include the cause of death. This is to address the ongoing concerns from members of the public and public representatives that, where the death certificate must be presented at schools, for example, the cause of death can cause distress to loved ones in cases involving suicide, violent death and death from substance abuse.

"Making provision for the issuing of a certified extract does not in any way affect the matters recorded in the Register of Deaths, including cause of death, or impact in any way on the compilation, extraction and publication of vital statistics.

"Relatives of the deceased person will have the option of obtaining both a full certificate and a short-form certificate, and each document may be used for differing purposes. Where, for example, the situation requires the cause of death to be disclosed, the relative will use the full copy.  Where the cause of death is not relevant, the certified extract may be used. This change is aimed at assisting families dealing with the tragedy of losing a loved one, and will in no way affect the recording of necessary information."

ENDS

Note to Editors:

Deaths are registered in accordance with Part 5 of the Civil Registration Act 2004. There are two methods by which a death may be registered:-

  • Where a death is referred to a coroner, the death is registered by the local registrar on receipt of a coroner’s certificate containing the required particulars of the death; and
  • Where a death is not referred to a coroner, the death is registered by a relative of the deceased following receipt of a medical certificate of cause of death issued by the registered medical practitioner who attended the deceased during his or her last illness.

Section 61 of the Civil Registration Act 2004 provides for the issuing of certificates, including a certified copy (full certificate) and a certified extract (short-form certificate). 

Subsection 5 of section 61 of the Act provides that the Minister for Social Protection may make regulations specifying the particulars to be included in a certified extract.  The regulations now signed will provide that the cause of death may be excluded from a certified extract.

Last modified:06/08/2014