What is the Tell Us Once service when someone dies?

Knowing what to do when someone dies can be overwhelming. Which is why the government’s Tell Us Once service lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. Here’s how it works.

Tell Us Once Service

What is the Tell Us Once service?

Tell Us Once is an online government service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.

You can use Tell Us Once if the person died in:

  • a Commonwealth country
  • a European Economic Area (EEA) country
  • Switzerland

When someone dies, the first thing to do is to register the death. Once this has been done, the registrar will give you a form to be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (or the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland), which will allow the person’s pension and other benefits to be dealt with.

You’ll be assigned a unique reference number and they may also mention the Tell Us Once service. The registrar will:

  • let you know if the service is available in your area
  • give you the phone number
  • give you a unique reference number to use the service online or by phone

After you register the death, you must use the Tell Us Once service within 84 days.

Which organisations are covered by the Tell Us Once service?

Once you’ve submitted the relevant information, Tell Us Once will notify:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)* - to deal with personal tax (you need to contact HMRC separately for business taxes, like VAT)
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)* - to cancel benefits and entitlements, for example Universal Credit or State Pension
  • Passport Office - to cancel a British passport
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) - to cancel a licence and remove the person as the keeper of up to 5 vehicles (you contact DVLA separately if want to keep or sell a vehicle)
  • the local council - to cancel Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, a Blue Badge, inform council housing services and remove the person from the electoral register
  • Veterans UK - to cancel Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments

*HMRC and DWP will contact you about the tax, benefits and entitlements of the person who died.

Tell Us Once will also contact some public sector pension schemes so that they cancel future pension payments. They’ll notify:

  • My Civil Service Pension
  • NHS Pension Scheme
  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme
  • pension schemes for NHS staff, teachers, police and firefighters in Scotland
  • local authority pension schemes that participate in Tell Us Once

It should be noted that there’s a different process to update property records if the person who died owns land or property.

What do you need to use the Tell Us Once service?

In order to use Tell Us Once, you’ll need the following details of the person who died:

  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • driving licence number
  • vehicle registration number
  • passport number

You’ll also need:

  • details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting (for example State Pension)
  • details of any local council services they were getting (for example Blue Badge)
  • name, address, telephone number and the National Insurance number or date of birth of any surviving spouse or civil partner
  • name and address of their next of kin if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, or if their spouse or civil partner is not able to deal with their affairs
  • name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their ‘estate’ (money, property and possessions), known as the ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’ of the will
  • details of any public sector or armed forces pension schemes they were getting or paying in to

What should you do if Tell Us Once is not available?

If your local register office does not offer the Tell Us Once service or if the person died abroad in a country where Tell Us Once is not available, you’ll have to let the relevant organisations know about the death.

Find out more about what to do when someone dies using our checklist.

See also

What to do after someone dies: a checklist

Place a Deceased Estates notice

What are the responsibilities of an executor?

Find out more

Tell Us Once (GOV.UK)

Register the death (GOV.UK)

Report the death without a Tell Us Once reference number (GOV.UK)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 17 June 2020

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.