This guide outlines the registration process in the event of a death in the Cook Islands.
- Funeral Director.
When a death occurs in the Cook Islands, the relatives must appoint a person as Funeral Director to have charge of the burial and ensure compliance with the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1973. Burials may also be regulated by the Ministry of Health.
- Medical Certificate.
Following a death, the Medical Officer determines the cause of death and issues a Medical Certificate.
In rare cases a Coroner may become involved, particularly if the circumstances of the death were violent, unnatural, or suspicious. The Coroner determines whether further investigation of the circumstances and an inquest are necessary.
No one may obstruct or interfere with the examination of the deceased, however a relative may object to such examination being made and appeal any decision to the Minister of Health.
No burial may occur without the Funeral Director first obtaining a Medical Certificate or order from the Coroner, otherwise those who bury or permit burial may be prosecuted.
Sea Burial: Burial at sea is unlawful except where the Coroner provides written authority and any regulations issued by the Ministry of Health are complied with.
Burial Outside Cook Islands: If the burial is to occur outside the Cook Islands, the death is still required to be registered in the Cook Islands, and Ministry of Health regulations must be complied with.
- Burial Certificate.
The Funeral Director must complete and sign a Burial Certificate in the prescribed form. The Burial Certificate must be countersigned by either the officiating minister at the burial, or by two witnesses at the burial if no officiating minister.
The Burial Certificate must be signed and transmitted by the Funeral Director to the Registrar of Births and Deaths at the Ministry of Justice.
Registration of the deceased must be done by the Funeral Director within 3 working days after the burial. The Funeral Director appears at the Ministry of Justice in person, completes the registration with the required information and signs the Death Register. The Funeral Director may authorize another person in writing to complete the registration on his/her behalf and sign the Death Register. The person signing the Death Register should provide their passport or drivers license when registering the death.
Once registered, a written confirmation of the death registration will be given to the person who registered the death.
If an inquest is ordered, the Coroner shall instead be the person who completes the registration and signs the Death Register.
- Death Certificate.
Death Certificates may be obtained upon payment of the required fee.
Death Certificate …………………………$25
Search of records (each name)……..$10