BC Coroners Service

Last updated on June 3, 2024

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BC Coroners Service

The BC Coroners Service investigates all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths in British Columbia. It makes recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances.

For each death, a coroner will determine:

  • The identity of the deceased
  • When, where, and by what means the deceased came to their death
  • The classification of death:
Natural Death primarily resulting from a disease of the body and not resulting secondarily from injuries or abnormal environmental factors.
Accidental Death due to unintentional or unexpected injury. It includes death resulting from complications reasonably attributed to the accident.
Suicide Death resulting from self-inflicted injury, with intent to cause death.
Homicide Death due to injury intentionally inflicted by the action of another person. Homicide is a neutral term that does not imply fault or blame.
Undetermined Death which, because of insufficient evidence or inability to otherwise determine, cannot reasonably be classified as natural, accidental, suicide or homicide.
  • Whether any reasonable or practical recommendations may be made to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.

By mandate, all child deaths (a person under the age of 19 years) in B.C. are investigated and reviewed to allow for discovery and monitoring of trends, and to determine whether further evaluation is necessary or desirable in the public interest. This requires appropriate liaison with agencies such as the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Representative for Children and Youth.

The Coroners Service also investigates all deaths in custody and all deaths in designated institutions. Some deaths may be handled by a public coroner's inquest (quasi-judicial public hearing) rather than a coroner's investigation. A group of deaths with similar factors may also be investigated in aggregate through a Death Review Panel.


BC Coroners Service Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a viral illness. Deaths due to diagnosed COVID-19 do not meet the reporting requirements of the Coroners Act, and the BC Coroners Service will not be notified when these deaths occur.

The only time the BC Coroners Service could become involved in a COVID-19-related death is if a death occurs suddenly and unexpectedly in the community without previous diagnosis, and the circumstances suggest a high risk of COVID-19. In that case, the investigating coroner will collect all available information and assess whether post mortem testing for COVID-19 should occur. The Provincial Health Officer will immediately be notified of any positive test results for the purposes of provincial reporting.

For any specific BC Coroners Service questions, email CoronerRequest@gov.bc.ca.

Reporting a Death to the BC Coroners Service


Which Deaths are Reportable to the Coroners Service?

Under the Act, deaths to be reported to the Coroners Service include:

  • Deaths which appear to be the result of an accident, suicide, or homicide
  • Deaths in which the cause of death is not clear
  • Deaths which appear to be the result of natural causes but in which the deceased person has not been previously diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness and/or has not been under the care of a physician
  • All deaths which occur in provincial jails, federal penitentiaries or other facilities where a person is held against their will, such as those committed under the Mental Health Act
  • All deaths of children under the age of 19 years

Anyone can report a death to the Coroners Service that they believe meets the reporting requirements under the Coroners Act to be investigated by an independent body. For initial reports of new deaths call 1-855-207-0637 or 604-815-4090.

Most cases are reported to the Coroners Service by police, BC Ambulance Service and hospitals or long-term care homes. However, family members, friends, witnesses or others who believe death meets the requirements of the Coroners Act may also report a death. The case will be assigned to a coroner who will perform a preliminary examination of the facts to determine whether the death meets the criteria for a full investigation.

Other Resources

Please refer to our Family Resources page for other resources, services and information on coping with bereavement and loss.