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The Tell Us Once scheme was created by the Department for Work and Pensions to help people notify the relevant authorities of a death in one go. The government found that it could take up to 44 contacts with government departments to get everyone notified when a person died. So, if you are the executor or administrator of an estate, using the Tell Us Once scheme means you don’t have to contact each government department individually.

This can help take some stress out of an already difficult situation.


How Do You Use the Tell Us Once Service?

When a person has died there are lots of things that need to be considered.

Typically, when someone dies the first tasks would include:

  • the registering of the death
  • telling any government departments about the death
  • assessing your eligibility for bereavement benefits
  • the administration of the deceased’s estate


The Tell Us Once service helps you notify most of the government departments of a death in one go. It’s a free online service provided by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and you’ll need certain documents to hand to complete the forms.

When you register the death of a loved one with the local authority the registrar may go through the service with you but in most instances they will give you a unique reference number so you can use the service online or by phone (the registrar will give you the contact details).

If you are given a unique reference number, you have 84 days to complete the forms.

There is video service for users of British Sign Language or Relay UK if you can’t speak or hear on the phone.

If a coroner’s inquest is taking place and you cannot register the death, you can still ask a registrar for a unique reference number to use the Tell Us Once service. But you’ll need to get an interim death certificate from the coroner first.


Using the Tell Us Once Service – Who is Notified?

When you use the Tell Us Once service, you are notifying the following central and local government departments:


  • The Department of Work and Pensions – to cancel benefits and entitlements. After being notified DWP will get in touch with the executor/administrator.
  • The Passport Office – to cancel a British passport.
  • Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – for issues concerning personal tax (issues concerning business tax have to be dealt with separately). After being notified HMRC will get in touch with the executor/administrator.
  • The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency – to cancel a driving licence and remove the person as the keeper of up to five vehicles. If you are selling a vehicle owned by the deceased, you’ll need to contact the DVLA
  • The local authority – to cancel council tax, housing benefit, housing services, remove someone’s name from being a blue badge holder and to take the deceased’s name off the electoral register.

Tell Us Once will also contact Veterans UK to cancel any payments or pensions.


Public Sector Pension Schemes

The Tell Us Once Service will contact certain public sector pensions schemes too. For example:

And any public sector schemes that participate in the Tell Us Once Service (such as pension schemes for teachers, NHS staff and local governments).


Using the Tell Us Once Service – How Much is It?

Tell Us Once is an award-winning service that began in 2011 and the service is offered for free when you register the death of a loved one.

It started as a telephone service or face-to-face interview with the local authority, after the government found that it can take up to 44 contacts to alert all the relevant authorities to the death of a person. It was rolled out online to the DirectGov website in 2012.


How Long Does it Take?

Once you have collected the information you need, completing the forms takes around ten minutes.


Using the Tell Us Once Service – What Documents Do I Need?

Where the deceased has documents in joint names, you’ll need the permission of the other person to share their information with the service.

What you’ll need:


  • The deceased’s date of birth and the date they died.
  • National Insurance number and passport number.
  • driving licence number and vehicle registration number.
  • Details of pensions or benefits.
  • Details of any local authority services they were using, such as a disabled parking badge.
  • The name, address and contact details for a surviving spouse/civil partner.
  • A surviving spouse/civil partner’s national insurance details and date of birth.
  • The name, address and contact details the estate executor or administrator.


If you need to register a death with any banks or other financial institutes this can be done using the Death Notification Service. It’s free to use and there are currently around 20 high street banks or financial businesses involved.


Final Thoughts

Essex County Council and Southend Borough Council both offer the Tell Us Once service when registering a death. It’s a voluntary service but most people find it helpful.

If you choose not to use Tell Us Once you will need to contact the relevant authorities individually to tell them about the death. You don’t need to be the next of kin or the estate’s executor to use the Tell Us Once service either.  But you will need permission to share personal details with the service.

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