What is it?
This is the means by which a person’s death is certified (date, time and place where it occurred). The death has civil effects from the moment in which it occurs, but for it to be fully recognised it must be registered with the Civil Registry, which issues the death certificate. The registry automatically communicates the death to the Register of Inhabitants.
Who may request it?
Normally the funeral, who is representing the family, is responsible for making these proceedings before the registrar, but you can ask anyone with some knowledge of death.
Where is the death registered?
To request registration of a death, the first thing to determine is the competent Civil Registry. The Civil Registry where the death has occurred is considered to be the competent registry. There are, however, some exceptions and special rules:
- If the place of death is unknown, registration of the death will be undertaken by the registry where the body is located.
- To register deaths that have taken place during travel, the competent registry will be the one where burial is to take place or, alternatively, that of the town or city of first arrival.
- In the case of shipwreck or air disaster, the corresponding registry will be the one where the initial proceedings are instituted. If proceedings are not instituted by Spanish authorities, the location of the accident will determine competence.
Without prejudice to the rules of competency for registration, in certain cases, such as death during travel, registration may be transferred to the Civil Registry of the deceased’s place of residence at the request of his or her heirs.
Requesting the certificate online
It is possible to request the certificate online when the registration appears in the computerised civil registries included in the drop-down list provided by the Ministry of Justice.
Certificates requested in this way will be sent by default by regular post to the address indicated in the request. However, the interested party may collect it in person if this has been expressly indicated in the request.
Time limit for registration
Civil Registry rules require that the death must be declared, verified and registered within 24 hours of the death, and this must occur prior to burial. The burial licence will not be issued until the death has been registered. Death registration is considered legally urgent and it can be processed on any day at any time.
Necessary information and documentation
The death is declared at the Civil Registry using the free form the registry is required to provide together with the medical certificate of death or court registration order. The form must contain the following information:
- Name and surname(s) of the deceased.
- Parents’ names.
- Marital status.
- Place and date of birth.
- National identity document.
- Birth registration information.
- Last address.
- Day, time and place of death.
- Place of burial, if indicated on the declaration of death, or the certification from the authority or civil servant in charge of the cemetery.
- Indication of the document or documents from which the above information has been taken, except when these are known by the individual making the declaration, and reference to other identification information when the required information is unknown, as well as to the clothing and papers found with the deceased, including their photograph.
Necessary documentation for registering the death
When registering prior to the burial, as is customary, the document upon which registration in the registry is usually based is the medical certificate of death (or the court order in the case of criminal investigation procedures for violent death).
- However, for registering when the body has disappeared or has been buried prior to registration, a final ruling, government records or order from the judicial authority instructing the proceedings for violent death that confirms the death beyond doubt will be necessary.
- Medical certification of the existence of unmistakable signs of death is required to proceed with the death registration. If the medical certificate is missing or if it is incomplete or contradictory, the coroner assigned to the Civil Registry or his or her substitute must ratify or replace the required certificate.