Death certification serves both legal and health functions.

A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is a statutory requirement, it provides 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.

Completing an MCCD

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. Regular auditing of this process should take place.

Death Certification Education and Learning Resources

Turas online modules (approx. 20 minutes each)

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.

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.  

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.



Top Tips for Certifying Doctors