Tell Us Once: What To Do After Someone Dies

Written by Fraser Stewart
Reading time 4 minutes
Tell Us Once: What To Do After Someone Dies image

The Tell Us Once service is a convenient offering from the UK government designed to simplify the process of notifying various government departments and local councils when someone passes away. This guide provides an overview of the service and how to utilise it effectively.

Alternatively, you can read the Tell Us Once Guide from GOV.UK

What is the Tell Us Once Service?

Tell Us Once is a free service provided by the UK government. Its primary purpose is to help individuals inform most government departments and local councils about the death of a person. By using this service, you can ensure that various organisations, from the HMRC to the local council, are informed about the death, reducing the administrative burden during a challenging time.

Who Can Inform Tell Us Once?

  1. A surviving spouse or civil partner
  2. The next of kin
  3. The executor
  4. The administrator
  5. Anyone who was claiming benefits or entitlements jointly with the person who died
  6. Anyone who is granted permission to do so by any person(s) listed above

Availability of the Tell Us Once Service

England, Scotland, and Wales

Residents of England, Scotland, and Wales can fully utilise the Tell Us Once service. When a death is registered in these regions, the registrar will provide the necessary details and a unique reference number to access the service.

You must do this within 5 days in England and Wales, or 8 days in Scotland.

Northern Ireland

The Tell Us Once service is not available in Northern Ireland. Residents of Northern Ireland will need to inform each government department separately.

Which Organisations are Notified?

When you use the Tell Us Once service, the following organisations will be informed:

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) This will deal with personal tax and will cancel benefits such as Child Benefit, Tax Credits, or Tax-Free Care. If the deceased was self-employed or owned a business, business taxes like VAT would need to be addressed separately.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Any DWP benefits the deceased was receiving will be canceled, such as Universal Credit or State Pensions.
Passport Office Any British passports held by the deceased will be canceled.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Driving licenses will be canceled, and the deceased will be removed from their records if they were the keeper of a vehicle. The vehicle's tax will also be canceled.
Local Councils They will cancel Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Blue Badges and other local services. The deceased will also be removed from the electoral register.
Veterans UK This is to cancel or update Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments.
Social Security Scotland This will cancel benefits and other entitlements from the Scottish Government, including Scottish Child Payment
Public Sector Pension Schemes The service will contact the following public sector pension schemes to cancel future pension payments:

  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme
  • NHS Pensions for NHS staff in England and Wales
  • Scottish Public Pension Agency schemes for NHS staff, teachers, police and firefighters in Scotland
  • Pension Protection Fund and Financial Assistance Scheme
  • Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS)

Preparing to Use Tell Us Once

A registrar will explain the service when they register the death. They can help complete the service with you, or provide a unique reference number so you can complete the process yourself, either online or via the phone. 

Before you use the Tell Us Once service, it's essential to gather all the necessary information about the deceased. Here's a checklist to help you prepare:

Essential Details

  1. The Tell Us Once reference number provided by the registrar.
  2. The deceased's surname and date of death.
  3. Details of the person or company handling their estate (known as the 'executor' or 'administrator'), including their name, address, and contact information.
  4. If applicable, details of the surviving spouse or civil partner, including their name, address, phone number, National Insurance number, or date of birth.
  5. If there's no surviving spouse or civil partner, or they're unable to manage the deceased's affairs, the name and address of the next of kin.
  6. If the deceased passed away in a hospital, nursing home, care home, or hospice, the name and address of the institution. You'll also need to specify if the stay was 28 days or longer.

Additional Information (if applicable):

  1. Passport details: The deceased's passport number and town of birth.
  2. Driving details: The deceased's driving licence number.
  3. Vehicle details: Registration numbers of any vehicles they owned.
  4. Local council details: The name of their local council and any services they were receiving, such as Housing Benefit payments or Council Tax details.
  5. Blue Badge details: The deceased's Blue Badge number, if available.
  6. Benefits, tax credits, or State Pension details: Information about which ones they were receiving.
  7. Armed Forces Pension or Compensation Scheme details.
  8. Public sector pension scheme details: Information about any schemes they were receiving money from or paying into.
  9. National Insurance number, especially if they were associated with specific pension schemes like NHS Pensions for staff in England and Wales, Scottish Public Pension Agency schemes, Pension Protection Fund, Financial Assistance Scheme, or Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS).

Having all this information at hand will ensure a smooth and efficient process when using the Tell Us Once service.

What Does the Service Not Cover?

While the Tell Us Once service is comprehensive and contacts a wide range of government departments and services, there are certain areas and organisations it doesn't cover. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Private Sector Services The service primarily contacts public sector organisations. It won't notify banks, building societies, insurance companies, or other private sector services about the death.
Utility Providers Gas, electricity, water, and telecom providers won't be informed by the service. You'll need to contact them directly.
Non-Governmental Organisations Charities, clubs, and other membership organisations aren't covered by Tell Us Once.
Subscription Services Magazine subscriptions, online streaming services, and other similar services won't be notified.
Medical Services While the NHS pension scheme is notified, individual medical practitioners, such as the deceased's GP, dentist, or optician, won't be informed.
Private Pensions Any pensions with private companies or organisations outside of the public sector won't be contacted.
Property and Housing Mortgage providers, landlords, or housing associations aren't covered by the service.
Non-UK Organisations If the deceased had dealings or entitlements with organisations or government departments outside the UK, these won't be contacted.

It's essential to create a comprehensive list of all organisations, both governmental and private, that need to be informed of the death. While Tell Us Once covers a significant portion, there will always be other entities that require direct notification.

Additional Resources

Tell Us Once

Tell Us Once Easy Read Guide


The Tell Us Once service is a valuable tool designed to ease the administrative burden during a challenging period. By understanding how it works and what's required, you can ensure that all necessary organisations are informed promptly and accurately.

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