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Family law

Confirming and registering the death

Registering the death and getting a death certificate

Notifying Births, Death and Marriages so that the death can be registered

Births, Death, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995, ss 42, 47, 48

After the deceased’s body has been buried or cremated, Births, Deaths and Marriages at the Department of Internal Affairs must be notified. This has to be done within three working days.

If a funeral director is in charge of the burial or cremation, they’ll take care of notifying Births, Deaths and Marriages. If you’re not using a funeral director, this will be the responsibility of the person in charge of the body, which will be the executor under the deceased’s will or, if there’s no will, the closest relative (see in this chapter “Burial and cremation / Decisions about the deceased’s body”).

You’ll need to fill out the special form for this, called a “Notification of Death for Registration” form (BDM 28). To get a copy of this form, phone 0800 22 52 52, or go into a BDM office. They have offices in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington and Christchurch.

It doesn’t cost anything to register a death, but there is a charge if you want a copy of the death certificate (see below).

Getting a copy of the Death Certificate

When Births, Deaths and Marriages has officially registered the death they’ll issue a Death Certificate (officially this is called a “New Zealand Death Certificate”).

Having a copy of the Death Certificate can be important, for example, for getting funds released from the deceased’s bank when it’s only a small estate (see in this chapter “Dealing with the deceased’s property / Small estates: No need for court approval”).

To get a copy of the certificate you’ll need to apply for it, and pay the relevant fee. You can apply when you fill out the notification form (see above).

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A death in the family

Where to go for more support

Confirmation of the cause of death – Coroners


The website of Coronial Services of New Zealand has information about the role of coroners in investigating the causes of deaths.

Registering a death


The Births, Deaths and Marriages section of the Department of Internal Affairs has information on its website about registering deaths.

Burial and cremation

Local council websites have information about burial and cremation in their particular areas.

Financial support for bereaved families


Work and Income’s website has information about possible financial support for funerals and tangihanga. Click on “Benefits and payments / Urgent or unexpected costs”.

ACC‘s website has information about different types of accident compensation and payments that can be made to family members when a person has died in an accident. Go to: www.acc.co.nz , and click on “I’m injured / Types of financial support / Financial support if someone has died”.

Gathering kaimoana for tangihanga


The Ministry of Primary Industries has information on its website about Māori customary rights for gathering kaimoana for tangihanga, hui and other traditional purposes.

Organ donation


The website of Organ Donation New Zealand has information about organ and tissue donation.

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