If someone dies at home or outside of hospital

Expected death

If the death was expected you should let the GP know or you can call NHS24 if out of hours. The GP or Scottish Ambulance Service will attend and should be able to confirm the death. They will arrange for the issuing of the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (also known as a death certificate). The Police may also attend and will liaise with any medical professionals involved (such as the doctor or paramedics). The professionals involved will support and talk you through the process.

Unexpected death

If the death was unexpected, or the GP or NHS is unable to issue the death certificate then the police would arrange for the body to be taken to the mortuary (at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital) to help establish the cause of death. Once established, the Procurator Fiscal will issue a death certificate. The body is then released to the family or next of kin. You can find out more about this process on the Procurator Fiscal page.

 In certain circumstances, for example where the death is because of an accident, suicide or is in some way suspicious, the police are involved and will explain what needs to happen. They may need to speak with friends and family, and have access to the home to collect evidence. This can be very upsetting but is essential to the investigation. It’s important to remember that the police have a responsibility to understand what has happened to the person who has died. They must also find out if a crime has taken place. If someone had died by murder or culpable homicide there are specific supports available for the family. You can find out more about these supports on the If someone dies as a result of a violent crime page.

If someone dies following a death on the road

Road safety charity Brake has created a guide for families and individuals affected by the death of someone in a road crash.

The guide contains:

  • detailed information on what happens immediately following a death in a road crash
  • practical issues
  • information on criminal investigations and charges
  • legal issues including compensation claims

Support services


Scotland's Campaign Against Irresponsible Drivers (SCID)


list of other support services, including contact details, is also available.