Conditions for completing the certificates if the usual doctor or nurse practitioner is unavailable:

  • This is essentially defined as being unavailable within 24 hours after death.
  • In that case, another doctor or nurse practitioner may be able to complete the death certificate.
  • If another doctor fills in the certificate, that doctor must personally examine the body and must have access to the patient’s medical records.
  • NOTE that the practitioner must first determine whether the case should be referred to the Coroner. If the death is reportable, the practitioner cannot complete a death certificate unless the Coroner declines jurisdiction.


Burial & Cremation Act 1964. Section 2 - interpretation:
“unavailable” means dead, unknown, missing, of unsound mind, or unable to act by virtue of a medical condition.

Burial & Cremation Act 1964. Section 46B (3)
Any other medical practitioner or nurse practitioner may give a certificate of cause of death for the person’s death if (and only if) the practitioner is satisfied that the person’s death was a natural consequence of the illness and—
(a) a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who attended the person during the person’s illness is unavailable; or
(b) less than 24 hours has passed since the death, and a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who attended the person during the person’s illness is unlikely to be able to give a certificate of cause of death for the person’s death within 24 hours after the death; or
(c) at least 24 hours have passed since the person’s death, and a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who attended the person during the person’s illness has not given a certificate of cause of death for the person’s death.


Burial & Cremation Act 1964. Section 46(B)(5)
A medical practitioner or nurse practitioner must not give a certificate of cause of death under subsection (3) unless the practitioner—
(a) has regard to the medical records relating to the person concerned of the health practitioner who last attended the person during the illness; and
(b) has regard to the circumstances of the person’s death; and
(c) has examined the person’s body.