The passing of a loved one is always a difficult time, and to make matters more stressful, there are many other pressing issues that have to be attended to in the midst of all the chaos. These include things like engaging a funeral home to handle the wake, selecting the best platform to post an obituary, and choosing a final resting place.
One of the first things that needs to be done when a death occurs locally is to apply for a death certificate in Singapore. It is required by Singaporean law that all deaths are registered within 24 hours.
This initial process alone can be quite tedious, so in this article, we will be breaking down everything you need to know about death certificates.
Here is a quick look at the topics we’ll be covering in this article –
- How to obtain a Singapore Certificate of the Cause of Death (CCOD)
- How to get a death certificate in Singapore
- How to get a death certificate when a death occurs outside of Singapore
- What to expect when the cause of death is unknown or of unnatural causes
- How to get a copy of a death certificate in Singapore
- Frequently Asked Questions on Death Certificate
1) How to obtain a Singapore Certificate of the Cause of Death
Before you apply for a Singapore death certificate, you will first have to obtain a Certificate of the Cause of Death (CCOD). This has to be done as quickly as possible as you must have the CCOD before applying for a death certificate. You will also need to have the CCOD before going to a funeral director as they will need the CCOD to go ahead with the registration of death and funeral arrangements.
The authorities you have to contact to obtain a CCOD will depend on how the individual passed on, and each situation will be handled differently depending on whether the death occurred at home or in the hospital.
The first thing to do is to get in touch with a doctor to check and confirm the cause of death. If the death occurred in the hospital, get in touch with the hospital doctor or one of the ward nurses. If the death happened at home, either call the doctor that most recently treated the deceased individual, or contact your family doctor or any neighborhood GP to make a house call. In the unlikely event that none are available, get in touch with a funeral director or the police.
The speed at which a CCOD will be issued depends on the cause of death. If the cause of death is unknown or unnatural, further investigations will be required, and this often involves the police. If however the death is known and deemed to be from natural causes, the attending doctor will issue a CCOD immediately.
It will not be possible to obtain a Singapore death certificate if the death occurs outside of Singapore. In the event where a death occurs overseas, you will need to register the death with local authorities. This can be done in a hospital or police station. For more information on this topic, scroll down to the section titled “How to get a death certificate when a death occurs outside of Singapore.”
2) How to apply for a death certificate in Singapore
As stated before, all deaths in Singapore, regardless of citizenship, must be registered with local authorities within 24 hours. This can only be done after you have obtained a Certificate of the Cause of Death, as mentioned in the previous section.
One of the most commonly asked questions is “who should register for a death certificate?” Well, anyone can register for a death certificate in Singapore, but it’s usually a relative of the deceased. However if a relative is unable to register, the person that registers for a death certificate is usually a funeral director or the individual who reported the death.
You should be able to register directly in the hospital if the death occurred there. The public hospitals that are able to handle death registrations are:
- Alexandra Hospital
- Changi General Hospital
- Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
- KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
- National University Hospital
- Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
- Sengkang General Hospital
- Singapore General Hospital
However, if the death happens at home, in a private hospital, or elsewhere, you can register directly at the ICA building. The exact details follow:
Registry of Births & Deaths
3rd Floor, Citizen Services Centre, ICA Building
10 Kallang Road 208718 (next to Lavendar MRT Station)
Operating hours: 8.00am – 4.30pm on Monday to Friday, and 8.00am – 12.30pm on Saturday
Alternatively, deaths can also be registered at any police division headquarters, neighborhood police centre, or manned neighborhood police post (NPP). A list of manned NPPs can be found by following this link. Do note that registrations of death or still-births can not be done at redesigned unmanned NPPs which are tagged as “self-help kiosks.”
Before registering a death, ensure that you have the CCOD, some form of identification of the deceased (NRIC or Passport), as well as your identification documents. Once you have gathered all the materials, head to any of the locations listed above. The registration officer will check your documents and promptly print the death certificate. You will then have to verify the information on the death certificate and once everything has been confirmed, the death certificate will be issued to you.
The death certificate will come with a permit to bury or cremate. This permit will be necessary for booking the cremation or burial slot later on.
3) How to get a death certificate when a death occurs outside of Singapore
In the event where a death occurs outside of Singapore, you will have to first register the death with the local authorities in order to get a death certificate. You must get an English translation of the death certificate if it is issued in another language.
If you have trouble contacting the local authorities, you can contact the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission. They will be able to help you with a death registration and repatriations of remains back to Singapore. Do note that there are different procedures to bring a person’s remains home, and the differences depend on whether you decide to bring the body home for burial/cremation, or you decide to cremate the remains overseas and bring the ashes home.
Once you return to Singapore, you are required to report the death to the Registry of Births and Deaths at ICA. Ensure that you have gathered all the necessary documents in the country where the death took place before reporting the death at ICA.
If a relative of yours passes away while you are still in Singapore, you should get in contact with the MFA Duty Office at:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
+65 6379 8800
4) What to expect when the cause of death is unknown or of unnatural causes
In the unfortunate event where the cause of death is unknown or of unnatural causes, the first attending doctor will report the death to the police and coroner. The police will then send the body to the Mortuary@HSA for further investigation. Once at the Mortuary@HSA, the coroner will review the case and determine if an autopsy is required. A Police Investigating Office (IO) will also be assigned to every case. The IO will be the person directly in contact with the family, and they will also be in charge of interviewing family members of the deceased and guiding them on the necessary procedures.
If an autopsy is not required by the coroner, the relatives of the deceased can claim the body after processing and completing the required documents. When claiming the body, relatives of the deceased must bring along all medical documents related to the deceased, all medicine recently consumed by the deceased, the deceased’s identification documents, as well as their own identification documents. Upon completion of investigation and processing of documents, a death certificate will be issued for the deceased.
5) How to get a copy of a death certificate in Singapore
In the event where an official Singapore death certificate of an individual is misplaced or badly damaged and a replacement death certificate is needed, a replacement copy will be needed. This can be done online by heading to the ICA website and applying for a death extract.
A death extract is a certified true copy of a Singapore death certificate and effectively replaces a lost or damaged one. You will be able to obtain death extracts for deaths dating as far back as 1872 from the Registry of Births and Deaths. However, if the death occurred overseas, you will not be able to obtain it from ICA and will instead have to appeal to the overseas authorities where the death occurred.
In order to speed up the process, you will need the following information relating to the deceased person:
- Name (as stated in the death certificate)
- Date of death
- Singapore death registration number or IC/Birth Certificate number if the death occurred in the last five years
However, if you are missing any of the above information, you will have to apply for a search for the death record. This can be done by providing the following information:
- Your email address (so the record can be sent to you)
- Name of the individual you’re looking for
- Approximate period when the death occurred
- Any additional information like place of last residence or address of death that can help speed up the search process
The overall fees for obtaining a death extract is $40. The fees for a search of death record is also $40 for a one-month search period, and $40 for every additional month or part thereof.
Once you’ve provided all the necessary information for a death extract, your request will usually be processed within four working days. A Search of Death Record will usually take more time and can take up to three weeks. Of course, having more information on hand will speed up the search process. Some applications for a death extract and Search of Death Records may take a longer time to process, but once everything has been processed, the death extract will be sent to you via registered post.
6) Frequently Asked Questions on Death Certificate
If you are in need of quick answers, here are some questions that are commonly asked regarding death certificates in Singapore:
How to get a death certificate in Singapore?
Once you have a Certificate of the Cause of Death, you can get a Singapore death certificate at most public hospitals, any police division headquarters, neighborhood police centres, manned neighborhood police posts, and at the ICA building.
a) How do I get a copy of a death certificate in Singapore?
You can apply for a Death Extract (official copy of a Singapore death certificate) at the ICA website.
b) How much does a copy of a death certificate cost?
A Death Extract will cost $40.
c) Can I get a Singapore death certificate if a death occurs overseas?
No. You will have to apply for a death certificate from the overseas authorities.
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