Things to take note upon the death of a loved one

When your loved one passes on, there are a number of matters you will be attending to. A funeral in the style that your loved one wanted is an important event for the family to grieve over their loss.

Certifying the cause of death

After your loved one’s life comes to an end, you will need to obtain a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD) to register the death within 24 hours.

The CCOD will be issued by a doctor, either at the hospital, or a doctor who visits your home if death occurs at home.

Doctors can issue a CCOD if they know the cause of death, and the death is natural.

If the cause of death cannot be identified or unnatural deaths

Should this occur, the doctor will refer the matter to the police. Even if the death occurred in the hospital, it will also be referred to the police if death was directly or indirectly caused by unnatural events, eg surgical complications, a fall before admission, etc.

If the police is involved, the body will be sent to the Mortuary@HSA (Block 9, Singapore General Hospital). The next-of-kin will need to go to the mortuary to identify the body.

Documents to bring to the mortuary include:

  • Informant’s identification papers, eg NRIC/ Passport 

  • Deceased’s identification papers, eg NRIC/ Passport/ Birth Certificate

  • All of the deceased’s medical documents and medicine taken

The coroner will review the case and determine if an autopsy is required. The next-of-kin will be informed of the coroner’s decision and when they may collect the body.

Registering the death

Death registration can be done at the following places:

  • At the Government/ Government Restructured Hospital (if death occurred there)

  • Any Neighbourhood Police Centre/ Police Divisional Headquarters (all other deaths)

  • Citizen Services Centre (all other deaths)

Registry of Births & Deaths
3rd floor, ICA Building
10 Kallang Road
Singapore 208718
Tel: 63916100
Opening Hours: 8am to 4.30pm (Monday to Friday); 8am to 12.30pm (Saturday)

Please note that you do not need to register the death separately if the body is referred to the Mortuary@HSA, as death will be registered at there. 

Upon registration, you will be able to collect the Death Certificate. The Death Certificate is required to:

  • Place an obituary in the papers

  • Engage a funeral director

  • Make arrangements for cremation or burial

Visit the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s website for more information about registering a death. If a death occurred overseas, read ICA's write-up on Death that Occurred Overseas for more information.

Placing an obituary

Many people choose to place an obituary in the newspapers. This is a personal choice and it is up to you how you would like to place an obituary. 

This link gives you the contact details of local newspapers where you can place a one.

Funeral wakes

Funeral wakes are opportunities for family, friends and acquaintances to pay their respects to the deceased. You can choose to have the wake at your own home, or at the funeral parlour. 

You could also hold the wake at the void deck. Permissions required include:

  • Town Council: To get a permit to hold the wake at the void deck
  • Land Transport Authority (LTA): To use part of the road outside your landed property
  • National Environment Agency (NEA): To extend the funeral wake more than 7 days after death
  • To help you with such matters, you can engage the help of a funeral director. A funeral director will:
  • Collect your loved one’s body from your home or hospital mortuary
  • Send the body for embalming and deliver the body to the place where you are holding the wake
  • Organise the logistics for the wake, e.g. getting the approvals you need, setting up the funeral parlour, arrange for prayers, etc.

Preparing for burial or cremation

You can book a date and time for cremation or burial at the relevant booking office. Your funeral director can also help you to make the booking.

You will need the following documents:

  • NRIC of the applicant and next-of-kin

  • Original Death Certificate (which contains the Permit to Bury/Cremate)

When you prepare for your loved one’s cremation, please note that if you choose to place any valuable items in the coffin, you will not be able to get them back due to the high heat of cremation.

Storage of ashes / Scattering the ashes at sea

Every family has its own preferences for the ashes of the deceased. Perhaps your loved one has given you instructions about what to do with the ashes.

There are normally two options:

1. Storing the ashes

  • You can store the ashes at home

  • You can store the ashes in a columbarium (there are 3 government-managed columbaria and several private columbaria in Singapore). To book a niche (a place to store the ashes), you will need to bring your NRIC and the original Death Certificate. You can book a niche in a government-managed columbarium online, or contact a private columbarium directly.

2. Scattering the ashes at sea

You can scatter the ashes at sea, at the approved site 1.5 nautical miles (2.8km) south of Pulau Semakau. This can be done daily, from 7am to 7pm. Please contact the Port Marine Safety Control Centre at 6325 2488 for assistance on scattering the ashes at sea.