Jump to main content
Personal matters

When a Person Dies

The death of a loved one marks a turning point in our lives. As much as grief is a natural reaction to death, it is also one of the most difficult emotions we experience.

Death can be sudden or long-winded, and reactions to death can differ a lot. Remember that there is no right way to grieve.

Death certificate

  • A death must be reported to the District Commissioner as soon as possible.
  • The doctor of the deceased examines the body and issues a death certificate.
  • After that, the relatives contact a priest, a representative of a religious association/life stance association or a funeral director who guides them regarding the next steps.
  • A death certificate is a notification of a person’s death. The certificate lists the date and place of death as well as the marital status of the deceased at the time of death. The certificate is issued by Registers Iceland.
  • A death certificate is obtained from the hospital where the deceased passed on or from their doctor. A spouse or a close relative must collect the death certificate.

Transporting the deceased within Iceland and internationally

  • A funeral home will be able to arrange transport from one part of the country to another.
  • If a deceased person is to be transported abroad, the next of kin must provide the death certificate to the district commissioner in the jurisdiction where the person died.

Bear in mind

  • Notify other family members and friends about the death as soon as possible.
  • Review the wishes of the deceased, if any, regarding the funeral and contact a minister, a religious officiant or funeral director for further information and guidance.
  • Collect the death certificate from the healthcare facility or physician, submit it to the district commissioner and receive written confirmation. This written confirmation needs to be in place so that the funeral can be carried out.
  • Find out if the deceased has rights to any funeral benefits from the municipality, labour union or insurance company.
  • Contact the media well in advance if the funeral is to be announced publicly.


Sorgarmiðstöð (The Centre for Grief) has a wealth of information in English and Polish. They regularly offer presentations about grief and grief responses for those who have recently lost a loved one. Find out more here.

The death of a loved one marks a turning point in our lives, and it can be useful to know where to find support with practical issues at such a moment.