Death certification serves both legal and health functions.

A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is a statutory requirement, it providesMCCD document icon a permanent legal record of the fact of death and enables the family to register the death, make arrangements for the disposal of the body, and settle the deceased’s estate. In addition, a MCCD provides a record of causes of death for public health reasons.

How to complete a paper-based Medical Certificate of Cause of Death form in Scotland

This animated short film guides certifying doctors through the process for completing a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or MCCD. An inaccurate MCCD can lead to further upset for people who are bereaved and delay funeral arrangements, so taking the time to complete the form in the right way can have a major impact. Also, by completing the MCCD accurately, certifying doctors are helping to provide better quality information about causes of death. 

Click on the image to the right to watch the video or here to view it on the NHS Education for Scotland Vimeo channel 

A transcript for this animation can be found here.

"When the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS) asked NES for help with a resource for all doctors on ‘How to complete a paper-based Medical Certificate of Cause of Death in Scotland’, we had not anticipated such an innovative outcome. The brief was a concise and readily understandable way to help certifiers refresh their knowledge both for planned CPD but also something that could be used ‘real-time’ when the need arose. Given the medicolegal importance of the production of an MCCD, especially for bereaved relatives, I have no hesitation in commending this material as the ‘go-to’ material in these circumstances" - Dr C George M Fernie, Senior Medical Reviewer & Caldicott Guardian, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Death Certification Review Service

Death Certification Education and Learning Resources

eLearning mortarboard icon Module 1 Death Certification: Identifying Common Mistakes

This module is intended for doctors who are completing medical certificates of cause of death in Scotland or doctors who have finished a training module on death certification and wish to confirm or improve their understanding of the subject.  

eLearning mortarboard icon Module 2 Certification of Deaths in the Community

This module is primarily intended for doctors who are working in general practice in Scotland and may need to deal with sudden or expected deaths in the community.

Note: You will need to register for a free Turas account to access these modules. Your progress will be recorded and will be available to verify your course completion within your NHS Board area. The downloadable completion certificate at the end of the module is available for insertion into your personal learning record. Each module takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

A Guide to Death Certification Review in Scotland

Healthcare Improvement Scotland's Death Certification Review Service (DCRS) have a digital leaflet providing guidance on death certification review in Scotland - please visit the Healthcare Improvement Scotland DCRS website to access this document (Death Certification Review Service information leaflet).  

Death Certification, the Review Process and Discussions with Families


In this short film (aimed at medical staff in Scotland), Dr George Fernie (Senior Medical Reviewer, Healthcare Improvement Scotland) is seen in conversation with Dr Katherine Ritchie (Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow) regarding the completion of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death (MCCD), talking about the content of these with families and the MCCD review process. 

A transcript for this video can be found here.

Click on the image to the right to watch the video or here to view it on the NHS Education for Scotland Vimeo channel

Deaths from COVID-19 disease in Scotland: Guidance on accurate death certification & reporting to the Procurator Fiscal

Following new information from the CMO, the guidance from the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS) at Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) for certifying doctors in Scotland on how to achieve accurate death certification and reporting to the Procurator Fiscal is currently being updated. As soon as this resource has been updated it will be posted here. 

If you have any further questions, please contact DCRS on 0300 123 1898 or


Top Tips for Certifying Doctors

The DCRS have provided a document of tips for certifying doctors when completing an MCCD, downloadable from the link to the right.


Does COVID-19 constitute a hazard in the deceased person?

A new DCRS advice document produced in December 2021 regarding whether COVID-19 constitutes a hazard in a deceased person is now available to read by clicking on the image to the right

Frequently Asked Questions for Non-Medical Staff

This is a short guide for non-medical staff who might interact with people who are bereaved, around the time of receiving the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

Click here or on the link to the right to download this guide.

MCCDs can only be completed by a medical practitioner. For completion, definitive diagnostic proof (e.g. from tests or post mortem) is not required. Instead the statement is what, to the best of the medical practitioner’s knowledge and belief, is regarded to be the cause(s) of death.

Guidance for Doctors Completing Medical Certificates of the Cause of Death (MCCD) and its Quality Assurance

Management of Deaths in the Community

View the GMC leaflet - New processes for death certification in Scotland: GMC guidance continues to apply

General points of note

  • An illegible paper form cannot be accepted by the Registrar for Births, Deaths, and Marriages, and will lead to a postponement in registering death and possible delay of the funeral

  • All entries must be completed clearly in black ink and BLOCK CAPITALS on the paper form

  • Timely and accurate completion of MCCDs is of great help to the bereaved families and friends as it reduces undue additional distress at an extremely difficult time

  • Health Boards should ensure that where a death occurs in hospital the consultant in charge of the patient’s care is involved in the completion of the death certificate wherever practicable, and that such involvement is clearly recorded in the patient records.