What to do if someone dies

What to do if someone dies

First of all, you must inform the burial/registry office of the town or village where the deceased person lived. The office will take care of all other formalities for the funeral. Please note that the deceased can be buried no earlier than 48 hours after the time of death. If the deceased has stated any wishes regarding the funeral, you must adhere to them. Otherwise it is up to the next of kin to settle the details of the funeral. If you wish to deposit your last wishes regarding your funeral arrangements, you can do so at the burial/registry office.

Below, please find a brief summary of what you need to do at the burial/registry office if a relative has died:

If the deceased has died at home:

First of all, call a doctor, who must confirm death and issue a death certificate. After that, the body can be taken to a chapel of rest.

If the deceased has died at the hospital, at the hospice or in a nursing home:

The nurse informs the doctor, dresses the body and prepares him or her for the laying out. Usually, the hospital, hospice or nursing home will send the death certificate and a written death notice to the burial/registry office. The next of kin will receive a copy of the death notice or death certificate.In case of an accident, suicide or active euthanasia, the Police must be informed.

Documents to hand over to the burial/registry office:

  1. Death certificate issued by thehospital/hospice/nursing home
  2. Family record book
  3. Proof of residence (legal aliensmust bring a passport or residence permit)

Whose responsibility is it to notify the burial/registry office?

  • The spouse or
  • children and their spouses or
  • the resident next of kin or
  • the person present at the time of death or
  • a member of staff of thehospital/hospice/nursing home.

Questions asked by the burial/registry office

Should the body be buried orcremated?

Does the family wish for a funeralservice in a cemetery chapel or in achurch, a brief liturgy on thecemetery or a private funeral ritualand ceremony?

Should the body be buried in aregular grave, an urn grave, acollective grave or a family grave?(If a person already knows that heor she wants to be buried in acollective grave, a writtendeclaration must be deposited withthe burial/registry office.)

  • Who acts as representative for theheirs (contact details for themunicipal authority)?
  • Is a private death notice publishedbefore or after the funeral?
  • Does the family wish there to be no official death notice?
  • If a person has died at home, when can the body be placed in the coffin and taken to the cemetery?

Injunctions issued by the burial/registry office

  • The burial/registry office isresponsible for the body to beplaced in a coffin and taken to the cemetary, for the cremation and/or laying out in the mortuary, and for the urn to be taken to the cemetary.
  • The office also sets the date for thefuneral and the service,
  • and informs the family of the priestwho will hold the ceremony.
  • The office will further notify thepriest, the cemetery gardener, thesexton and the organist.
  • It will publish the official deathnotice in the local newspaper (afterthe funeral if requested).

These injunctions can vary from town to town.

Things that need to be done after the burial/registry office:

  • get in touch with the a religious representative, if applicable assoon as possible
  • print funeral circulars and compile a list of addresses
  • publish death notices in newspapers
  • order a funeral meal
  • inform relatives, friends, clubs and former employers of the deceased
  • inform his or her insurance companies, health insurance and pension fund/AHV
  • If there is a last will and testament, it must be handed over for probate to the District Court of the last place of residence of the deceased (Art. 556 Swiss Civil Code).

Time limits, opening hours and on-call service

Every death must be reported to the burial/registry office within two days (according to Art. 81 Swiss Ordinance on Civil Status). Please check the opening hours. Usually, burial/registry offices do not have on-call service at weekends, but there may be one on bank holidays and over Christmas. Check with the local burial/registry office.


Addresses and links

  • The Abteilung Register und Personenstand des Departement Volkswirtschaft und Inneres informs about what to do if someone dies: www.ag.ch

    In the Canton of Aargau splitting up the inheritance is the responsibility of the heirs.




Addresses and links



Addresses and links



Addresses and links

  • Please inform yourself directly at the municipality office about what to do when someone dies.  Erbschaftsämter Solothurn: www.so.ch