Understanding the Law
October 1, 2004
Registration of deaths

When a person dies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the death must be registered. The informant must first obtain a medical certificate from a registered medical officer who is authorized to do so. If there is an error on the certificate it must be corrected by the medical officer who issued the certificate, as the registrar cannot correct errors on this certificate. {{more}}On presenting the certificate to a registrar either in a designated district post office or in the General Register Office, Kingstown, a “Certificate of registrar to be delivered by the applicant to the clergyman or other person for a burial” along with a notice to the gravedigger to perform his duties are issued. A death certificate is issued to the applicant on request. The certificate bears the name, age and occupation of the deceased at the time of death. It also notes the intended place of burial and the name and address of the informant. Where there has been an accident, a dead body found somewhere, a drowning or any “unnatural death”, “The Coroner’s Warrant to Bury” is issued by the magistrate for the district. The registrar gives permission for burial on the basis of this warrant. In the cause of death column of the narrative, “coroner’s warrant to bury” is inserted. After the coroner’s inquest, the registrar will be informed of the cause of death and this will be inserted in the register.

When a person dies abroad and the body is brought to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for burial, the permission for burial is given but a death certificate cannot be issued. In fact an original death certificate from the country where death occurred must be submitted before permission to bury is granted.

Registration of a death when a body cannot be found.

A death certificate could be issued under Section 32 (Chapter 179 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Revised Edition 1990) if the Registrar General is satisfied that the death has in fact occurred. However, it must be shown that the person died in a land, sea or air disaster, that the body could not be found and no coroner’s inquest has been held or is in progress or is capable of being held.

Persons with “a legally relevant interest” must write to the Registrar General requesting the registration of the death. Persons with an interest include a law officer, a relative, a beneficiary or executor in the estate of the deceased person. On receipt of the request, a notice of the intention of the Registrar General to register the death will be published in three consecutive issues of the Gazette. Anyone who is opposed to the registration of the death could indicate this to the Registrar General. If no such objection is received, the death will be registered 14 days after the last publication of the notice and a death certificate will be issued.

Despite the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, a coroner’s inquest may be undertaken in accordance with any given law. A registrar has the power upon the conclusion of such a coroner’s inquest to amend any material information in the register to reflect the coroner’s findings. A notice of the amendment must be published immediately in the Government Gazette.