Registering a death
The Births and Deaths Registration Act requires that a person’s death be reported to any one of the following people:
- Specific officers at the Department of Home Affairs
- South African Police Service members, especially in areas where the Department of Home Affairs has no offices
- South African mission, embassy or consulate, if the death occurred abroad
- Funeral undertakers who are appointed and recognised by the law
Form BI-1663 (Notification of death/still-birth) must be completed when reporting a death. The following people have to complete different sections of this form:
- The person reporting the death
- A medical practitioner (where a medical practitioner is not available to complete this form, in rural areas for example, a traditional leader may complete the form)
- A Home Affairs official (where an official from the Department of Home Affairs is not available then a member of the SA Police Services may be approached to complete the form)
A Death Report (Form BI-1680) will be issued after a death has been registered. This report can be issued only by someone whom the Department of Home Affairs has authorised to do so (this includes traditional leaders, members of the SA Police Services and authorised undertakers).
These designated people may also issue burial orders. No burial may take place unless authorised by way of a burial order (Form BI-14).
Reporting a death that occurred outside South Africa
Deaths of South African citizens and South African permanent residence permit holders that occur outside South Africa must be reported to the nearest South African embassy or mission abroad. The country in which the death occurs must issue a death certificate and a certified copy of the death certificate must be submitted to the South African embassy or mission when reporting a death.
If the deceased is to be buried in South Africa, the embassy or mission will assist with the paperwork and arrangements with regards to transportation of the body to South Africa.
Issuing of death certificates
The Department of Home Affairs will issue a Death Certificate on receipt of the notification of death (Form BI-1663)and the Death Report (Form BI-1680).
Applications for a Death Certificate must be lodged at any office of the Department of Home Affairs or at any South African embassy, mission or consulate if the death occurs abroad.
An abridged death certificate will be issued free of charge on the same day of registration of death. An unabridged death certificate can be obtained by completing Form BI-132 and paying the required fee.
Erroneously/ Fraudulently registered deaths
If a person has been erroneously or fraudulently recorded as dead in the National Population Register (i.e. they are still alive) this must be reported as soon as possible to the nearest Department of Home Affairs office for urgent investigation and corrective action.