Registering a Death in South Africa

Registering a Death in South Africa is not something one does every day so it can come as a bit of a challenge if you’re confronting it for the first time. Some people grow up surrounded by death while others live more sheltered lives and find death far more traumatic.

Once death has occurred, many people are in such a state of shock and bereavement, they don’t know which way to turn, what to do and whom to turn to. They know that  death has to be reported, but where and to whom.

After the death has been registered, you will want a few copies of the death certificate. For example you may need one to give to the bank, insurers or pension fund company. There may even be the need to part with one to the administrator who is dealing with the property of the deceased person.

Registering a deathRegistering a death is required by the Births and Deaths Registration Act and has to be be reported to –

  • The Department of Home Affairs.
  • In areas where there are no Department of Home Affairs offices, report it to the South African Police.
  • If the death occurred abroad, the death must be reported to the South African mission, embassy or consulate. The country where the death occurs must issue a death certificate. A certified copy of the death certificate must then  be submitted to the South African embassy when reporting a death.
  • If death was unnatural, the presiding doctor will report the death to a coroner.

If a death occurred in your home –

  • Contact your doctor and your nearest relatives.
  • In the event of an unnatural death the police must be contacted or if there were any unusual circumstances surrounding the death.
  • If you are religious you may want to contact the minister of your church.
  • If the deceased person wanted body organs to be donated, tell your doctor about it or call the Organ Donor Foundation.
  • Contact a funeral director who will collect the deceased from your home. No matter how death occurs and where it occurs, you need to find out about things like Wills and who was appointed to handle it.

If death occurs in hospital –

  • you will receive a death certificate
  • you may be required to give permission for a post mortem
  • the staff at the hospital must be informed about any body parts to be donated to medical science

Form BI-1663 must be completed when reporting a death. There are different sections of this form and each of these sections has to be filled in by the appropriate person.

  • The person who is reporting the death.
  • The doctor.
  • The Home Affairs official, and if one isn’t available, then a member of the SA Police.

Once  a death has been registered a death report will be issued  by an authorised person from the Department of Home Affairs. A burial order form (Form BI-14) is required before any person may be buried.

Funeral Director Registering a Death

If you think that registering a death is all just beyond you and too complicated, a reputable funeral director will do it all for you – from getting the death notice and certificate to cemetery or crematorium arrangements and everything else.

Most deaths take place in a hospital or at home and the body will then be collected by funeral directors while you are asked to collect the person’s personal possessions, indicative of the closing of a chapter and the opening of a new one.

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