What to do when a death occurs: 4 key steps

Nothing has to be done immediately after a person’s death. Take the time you need. You may want to spend a quiet time with your loved ones and console each other. Once you are ready, there are a few steps to take care prior to the funeral arrangements.


Obtain Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD)

When a death occurs, the family will have to obtain a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD) from the hospital or doctor.

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If the doctor is unable to determine the cause of death or the death has been a result of or has been contributed by an unnatural event (e.g. surgical complication), the doctor will refer the case to the Police/ Coroner. In such cases, the body will be sent to Mortuary@HSA (located at Block 9 Singapore General Hospital) in a Police Hearse. The family will be notified to go down to Mortuary@HSA, usually on the next day. You will be required to bring along:

  • All relevant medical documents relating to the deceased

  • All medicine consumed by deceased

  • Identification papers of both the deceased and informant (e.g. NRIC/Passport/Birth Cert)

Engage a funeral director

After the Certificate of Cause of Death has been obtained, the family may engage a funeral director who will:

  • collect the body from the hospital mortuary/home

  • send the body for embalming (if required)

  • deliver the body to the location of the wake

You will need to decide the place of the wake (such as the void deck, house or parlor) and the number of days of the wake.

Also read: Engaging a funeral director


Decide whether the body will be cremated or buried

The body may be cremated or buried depending on the wishes and religion of the deceased. Prior to registration of death, the family should decide whether the body will be cremated or buried as this information is required when registering the death.

Also read: Deciding between burial or cremation

Your funeral director can help you with the booking of the date and time for cremation or burial. Otherwise, you can do the bookings through phone, online or at the relevant booking office.

Register the death

Registration should be done within 24 hours of obtaining CCOD at the following:

If the body is referred to the Mortuary@HSA, the death will be registered at the Mortuary@HSA.

Do make a few copies of the Death Certificate as you may require it.

For more information, please refer to the article "How to register death in Singapore".

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