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

eLearning Module: Death Certification - Identifying Common Mistakes

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.