We suggest that you appoint a funeral director as soon as possible. If there is to be a post-mortem examination it may not be possible to give you an exact date for when the body will be released but this does not prevent you from contacting a funeral director and discussing your requirements for the service. If you tell the funeral director that the Coroner is involved, they will be familiar with the process and will know what to do. It may be unwise to confirm a date until the Coroner has authorised release of the body.
Important note on choosing a funeral director
The choice of a funeral director is a matter for you. If your relative died in the community and you do not have a particular funeral director in mind at that early point in time the Coroner has an appointed funeral director who will attend and convey the deceased to the mortuary at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Bereavement benefits and help with funeral expenses
Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to some state benefits to assist with funeral expenses. You may wish to look at www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/bereavement or speak to your funeral director for further information.
In cases where there is nobody to take on funeral arrangements a referral may be made to the Customer Property and Affairs Team (CPAT) at Sunderland City Council for deaths that occurred in the community or the Bereavements Office at Sunderland Royal Hospital for death that occurred in hospital.
Taking bodies out of England and Wales (repatriation)
Anyone wanting to move a body out of England and Wales (including to Scotland) must have authority from a Coroner. This applies even if the death was completely natural and was not otherwise reported to the Coroner.
If you wish to repatriate your relative's body, your funeral director will make the arrangements for you. They will need to submit a Form of notice to a Coroner of intention to remove a body out of England - Removal Notice Form 104 (Rev). A copy of the death certificate should be provided to the Coroner’s Office unless there is an ongoing Coroner’s Investigation.
Once the request is made, it can take an additional working day to obtain the signed authority from the Coroner. Funeral directors should not book repatriation flights until they have the Coroner’s signed authority in hand. We unfortunately cannot take responsibility for missed flights that were booked against our advice.
You do not need authority from the Coroner to repatriate cremation ashes. If you intend to transport them by air, contact your airline for advice about their particular arrangements or speak with your funeral director for general guidance.