What to do When a Death Occurs?

For immediate advice and assistance, call us at 6455 9909 and we will guide you through the entire funeral process. Many people are unfamiliar with the funeral process and what actions to take when their loved one passes on. That is why we have prepared the following article to give you some guidelines on what to do when a death occurs.

Obtaining Certificate of the Cause of Death (CCOD)

A Certificate of the Cause of Death (CCOD) has to be obtained in order to register the death. Depending on where death occurred, the procedure for how this is done will differ.


If death occurs at the hospital
The CCOD will be issued on the spot by the attending doctor at the hospital if cause of death is known and natural. The CCOD can only be obtained after producing the NRIC of the deceased.


If death occurs at home
A house call by a GP or your family doctor has to be made to certify the cause of death. If the doctor is able to certify the cause of death, the CCOD can be issued by the doctor on the spot.


Coroner’s Case
A coroner’s case happens in the event of an unnatural death or when death occurs without a known cause.

The police will arrange for the body to be sent to the Mortuary@HSA (located at Block 9 Singapore General Hospital). The police investigation officer (IO) will inform the family when to go to the Mortuary@HSA. Be punctual and bring along both the IC of the deceased and the informant, and all relevant medical documents and medicines relating to the deceased.

At the Mortuary@HSA, the police IO will arrange for the family to view and identify the deceased’s body in the presence of the Coroner.

The Coroner will review the case and determine if an autopsy is required. The family will then be informed of the Coroner’s decison and the time to claim the body for the funeral.



Registering the Death

Next, death registration must be done within 24 hours of the death. The death registration center will retain the CCOD and issue a death certificate to the family. Do note that families will need to decide on whether they wish to proceed with burial or cremation as this information needs to be provided to the officer during registration.


Where to register the death?
If death occurred at home or in a private hospital, the next-of-kin can register the death at any neighbourhood police post, police centre or headquarters. Alternatively, registration can be done at The Registry of Births and Death in the ICA Building.

If death occurred in government hospitals/government-restructured hospitals, or if the case is referred to the Mortuary@HSA, the registration can be done in the hospital itself.



Arranging the funeral

Engaging a funeral home
If you have not already done so, you would need to engage a funeral home to assist you in arranging the funeral. We have also written a guide on how to choose a funeral home to help you in the selection process.

When a death occurs in the family, it can be a stressful and confusing time and you may be at a loss of what to do. That is why the guidance of an experienced funeral director will be a great aid during this difficult period. As soon as you make the first call, a funeral director will advise you through the entire funeral process, from obtaining the CCOD to helping you organise other administrative tasks.

* Prepare a set of clothing, footwear as well as dentures (if any) to be handed to our staff for dressing up your loved one after embalming


Arranging the wake
There are other important things to consider when arranging a funeral apart from choosing a good funeral home. A funeral wake lets family and friends gather and pay their last respect to the deceased. Families will need to decide on the number of days and location of the wake among other decisions.

In Singapore, wakes can last from 1 to 7 days.Depending on different religions and traditions, the number of days for a funeral wake will vary. If the wake extends to more than 7 days after death, written permission will have to be obtained from the NEA.

The location to hold the wake is another aspect to consider. In Singapore, wakes are often held at the deceased’s home or in funeral parlours.

For wakes to be held in the void decks of HDB, an application for a permit will have to be made with your local town council to secure your spot for the usage of the void deck. Bring along a copy of the death certificate and a Singapore Power (SP) bill which indicates the address of the void deck.

For families living in landed property, a permit from LTA is necessary if you intend to use part of the road outside our house.


Depending on the preference of the family, obituaries are optional and may be placed in our local newspapers. Arrangements will be made by the funeral directors.


Burial / Cremation
Our funeral advisors will assist with the booking of the slot for burial or cremation.

In Singapore, due to land constraints, the only cemetery available for burial is Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. Burial period for graves are limited to a time span of 15 years, after which, the graves will be exhumed. Cremation will be carried out for those whose religions permit, and the remains can be stored in columbarium niches or scattered at sea. For those that require compulsory burial, the remains will be re-buried but in smaller individual plots.

For a detailed list of locations for burial, cremation and ash storage, click here.