Information for doctors and funeral directors

The information on this page can be used as a guide when:

  • doctors certify a death from natural causes – deaths not referred to the coroner
  • funeral directors arrange a burial or cremation
  • adding court appointed guardian details to a death record.

Funeral directors – register a death, apply for cremation permits or death certificates online.

Notice of death

The doctor who certifies the death must also notify Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) within 48 hours of the death.

The written notice – white copy of Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death – is the first advice to BDM. It will be used to confirm the death by matching information with:

  • Death Registration Statement from the funeral director
  • Cause of Death completed by the doctor.

The notice also alerts BDM if all related forms are not received.

Cause of death

The Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death must:

  • provide sufficient detail and all sections must be complete
  • be legible, with the doctor’s name, address and contact details
  • show the cause of death – including the duration
  • include any antecedent causes or contributing conditions – including the duration.

The Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death consists of three pages:

  • white copy – (Notice of Death) deliver to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, GPO Box 1351, Adelaide 5001 (Chesser House, 91-97 Grenfell Street, Adelaide 5000) within 48 hours of the death. Do not give this copy to the funeral director.
  • yellow copy –  give to the funeral director or person who is arranging burial or cremation. They are responsible for sending it to the Registrar with the Death Registration Statement.
  • Blue copy – must be retained by the doctor.

Information on a death certificate is a primary source for gathering Australian mortality statistics.  After a death is registered, BDM sends the certificate to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Use the Cause of Death Certification information paper and Quick Reference on the ABS website  to assist with completing the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

Contact BDM for printed supplies of Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death/Notification booklets.

Burial and cremation forms completed by the doctor

Completed forms must be forwarded to the funeral director or the person arranging the cremation or burial. Use the Notes for doctors for detailed information about identification tags and filling in all the required forms.

Form 3 – Death from natural causes – certificate of treating of examining doctor
Form 4 – Death from natural causes – certificate of second doctor
Form 5 – Death from natural causes – certificate of doctor conducting post mortem (non-coronial)
Form 6 – Partial certificate of cause of death
Form 7 – Certificate of identification of deceased
Form 8 – Certificate of doctor dispensing with identification of deceased

Forms for the funeral director

The person arranging the burial or cremation must complete and lodge:

  • Form 1 – Application for cremation permit
  • Form 2 – Cremation permit

Note: Forms 1 and 2 must be lodged together.

Printed forms are available by Contacting BDM.

Use the Notes for funeral directors to ensure the doctor has provided all other relevant forms.

Adding a court appointed guardian to a child’s death record

A court appointed guardian can apply to have their name added to a child’s death record.  The application  form and information for funeral directors can be found at  Register a death.

Identification tags

An ID tag with the person’s full name and place of death – written in permanent ink – must be securely attached to the deceased before their body can be moved.

The ID tag can be completed by:

  • the doctor responsible for medical care immediately before death
  • another person who personally knew the deceased
  • a person who is otherwise able to confirm the identity of the deceased.

The ID tag must be large enough to display the name and place of death, and of appropriate material so it can be written on in permanent ink and cannot easily be removed from the body.

The tag needs to be attached to the left arm of the deceased. If this is not practical, attach it to the next position in the following order:

  • right arm
  • left leg
  • right leg
  • other part of the bodily remains

Early loss of pregnancy

Early loss of pregnancy commemorative certificates are available for parents who have delivered at less than 20 weeks gestation or if the gestation weight was less than 400 grams if dates can’t be confirmed –  not able to be registered under the Birth, Death and Marriages Act.

A letter from a doctor or midwife confirming the loss of pregnancy is needed when applying for a commemorative certificate. Use the Statement of Early Loss of Pregnancy template and print on letterhead stationery to ensure BDM receives sufficient information.


Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996

Contact us

Contact BDM for printed copies of forms and publications.