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What to do after a death

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only.

Coronavirus – registering a death and attending funerals

Check your local council website for information about how deaths are being registered in your area. Find your local council on  

Cremations and funerals

Cremations, burials and funeral services can go ahead in Scotland. In levels 0, 1, 2 and 3, you can also hold a wake in a regulated venue, like a hotel. In level 4, wakes and other post funeral gatherings are not allowed.

How many people can attend depends on what protection level applies to the area. You should check the protection level using the Scottish government postcode checker. This will tell you what rules and guidance to follow. 

The maximum number of people at a funeral or wake should be:

  • 50 in level 0
  • 20 in levels 1, 2 or 3
  • 20 at a funeral in level 4 and wakes are not allowed. 

This number includes children but not the celebrant, venue staff or funeral director. 

Funeral directors and crematoriums will take extra steps to stop the spread of coronavirus and protect you and their staff. This means different households should stay two metres apart and you must wear a face covering indoors. 

There's guidance for funeral services on the Scottish government website. 

Some of the rules on arranging a cremation have changed. For example, another relative can arrange the cremation if the closest relative can't. The crematorium or funeral director can explain what to do. 

More bereavement advice and support

Get more resources and support for bereavement from the Good Grief Trust. 

PETAL Support offers free counselling for people over 12 years old who have experienced bereavement due to COVID-19.

PETAL Support (Scotland)
8 Barrack Street

Tel: 01698 324502 (Monday to Thursday from 9.00am to 5.00pm; Friday from 9.00am to 4.00pm)

Scottish Government guide

'What to do after a death in Scotland' gives practical advice at a time of bereavement. It's available on the Scottish Government website as web pages or a downloadable PDF booklet.

Booklet date: 11th edition revised March 2017
Booklet size: 80 pages

Paper copies:

The Scottish Government
Civil Law Division
Area 2W, St Andrew’s House
Regent Road

Tel: 0131 244 3581

Leaflet front cover

Tell Us Once

Your local authority may be part of a service called Tell Us Once. The service allows you to report the death of someone just once and a number of government departments are all then informed of the death. The UK government departments that are informed of the death include DVLA, the Passport Service, the Pension Service and HM Revenue and Customs. Check if your local authority provides this for you. You can find out more about Tell Us Once on the UK government website.

Bereavement support and advice

You can find a useful list of bereavement support and advice services in Scotland on the Scottish Government website.

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