Foreign death certifcate

Use of foreign death certificates, Death Certificate Verification

I’ve not come across having to resolve this for a long time so I am out of date but would appreciate guidance on how to persuade clearer bank to accept official translations into English of Iranian certificate of death and Iranian death certificate (apparently equivalent to the original death certificate and certified copy of entry in the Register of Deaths in England) in circumstances where the deceased died in Iran and was a joint account holder with her husband and son at the bank and we wish to remove her name.

When presented with the Iranian documents, the bank insisted that either I register the death in UK or provide them with a Death Certificate Verification notice; I checked the latter and the protocol between Law Society and the BBA and the model form and notes to it which seem to say that a death certificate verification notice is not suitable in the case of foreign death certificates (for pretty obvious reasons) which leaves me with registering in the UK or persuading bank to be sensible about the foreign documents, or advising the joint account holders just to empty the account. I suppose the last is the cheapest all round, but it’s clumsy and unsatisfactory, and I’d like to know how to deal with the impasse for the future; do I really have to register the death in the UK in such circumstances?

No one seems to have posted a problem like this so maybe I’m expecting too much of a UK bank or being obtuse or over-engineering this somehow. I’d be most grateful for comments please.

David Martin

Whilst I agree that the death verification notice (DVN) is inappropriate for use with “foreign” death certificates, if that is what the bank says it needs, and would be fairly simple and cheap to provide, I’d say give it a go. You’ve already sent it the formal death certificate and translation so cannot say that you are trying to mislead it.

If, having specifically asked for it, the bank then rejects the DVN, it’s a fair question to ask for contact with the bank’s legal team to understand their requirements as the team you’re dealing with doesn’t know.

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

Hi David,

I don’t think there are any good choices available here, but here are my thoughts on this: firstly, you’re definitely not over-engineering it.

As a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention on Apostilles, I’m not entirely surprised the bank isn’t happy with ‘just’ a translation of the Iranian original – the translation doesn’t offer any assurance as to its validity. You could push the bank for clarification on the circumstances under which the existing death certificate could be accepted (e.g. having the official translation legalised by the Iranian Ministry of Justice and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?). You may then have a document that the bank will accept, but you’d of course want a prior nod from the bank, before going to any of this trouble, and they may be unwilling to give it.

Certificates of birth, marriage and death are not listed among the items the Iranian Embassy in the UK says they can legalise (, but contacting them might help you get clarification on what the correct procedure should be:

Legalization Division of the Consular Section
(Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 and 12:00pm)
Tel: +44 (20) 722-53000 - +44(20) 736-10802
50 Kensington Court
W8 5DD

So you may well find that, however tortuous the process of registering the death in the UK may be, it’s less tortuous than this process, even assuming it’s actually possible to organise at the moment.

Interested to see any other options anyone can think of, but I hope this helps form a view on the way forward.

Louise Levene
Finders International

17 Aug 2020.
Dear David,
We have not dealt with Iranian Death Certificates, but have used the following in the past:
(1) Have the Iranian Death Certificate translated by a recognised translation service in the UK or in Iran; or
(2) Approach to British Consulate in Iran for assistance in translating the same. Sometimes a letter from the consulate can persuade the bank to be more sensible can be very helpful.
(3) You may care to note that the GRO has a facility for registering a foreign Death in this Country. I believe you just have to complete a Form and send it in with the fee (you may to go through the above mentioned translation aspect).
(4) There is a form of International Death Certificate (it written in several different languages) and if it can be obtained from the original issuer of the Iranian Death Certificate, it should be usable in the UK.
(5) If a funeral service was used to being back the body to the UK, they would have a facility for arranging for an English Translation of the Death Certificate.

In summary you are correct, that the cheapest way is to simply remove the monies from the bank account by using the other signatories. However as the bank are on notice as to the death, they may have frozen the account pending production of the requested Death Certificate.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Double
Probate Resealing Services

I must thank everyone who has helped with this! Three really thoughtful and practical views and suggestions, from Peter Double, Louise Levene and Paul Saunders. At the moment, im waiting to hear if the clients have been able to clear the account out! When speaking to the bank, i did say, is there any reason why the survivors could not draw all the money out and leave you with a dormant account and they repeatedly said, in a monotone, mantra-like way, that the survivors have the right to operate the account…so, much as I’d like to be paid to pursue all the interesting suggestions I’ve received, i think we’re going to just take the money! Good to hear from the diversity of practitioners though, for future reference, thank you.

David Martin
Kidd Rapinet

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