Scattering Ashes - The Laws, Regulations, and Permits

Scattering ashes is a beautiful way to pay tribute to somebody’s life and the act of doing so can be part of a special memorial or ceremony shared between a few loved ones. In this article we are going to discuss a few ways this can be done.

On your own Private Land

You will not need permission to scatter your loved ones ashes on your own private land such as your garden, in a flower bed, or the base of a tree. Although, It might be worth bearing in mind that you may not always have access to these locations if you decide to sell your property in the future.

On Common land 

Common land, including towns and village greens, are usually owned by the local council. If you are interested in scattering your loved ones ashes on a local village green you must contact the owner of the land to request permission. If you are unsure on specific areas please contact your local community council as they have the relevant resources to find out who owns the land and who has the right to use it.

Fields And Trees

On National Trust Land

The National Trust is home to some of the nation’s most beautiful historic places all around the United Kingdom. Some locations are open all hours and all year round, however some may depend on the season or daylight hours. As always, ask permission. The National Trust doesn't have any strict policies on scattering ashes, although there are a few things you ought to know before visiting;

  • The property manager can give you written permission to scatter ashes so make sure you contact them to request permission.
  • Please be mindful of others on the site when finding the perfect place to scatter your loved ones ashes.
  • No harm will come to the environment such as possible contamination of water sources.
Stone Statues

 In the Sea, Rivers, and Lakes

Unlike a Land burial, scattering ashes at sea is far easier and you don’t require a permit to do so. However, there are Environmental Agency guidelines which should be followed in order to protect the local ecosystem. These guidelines include;

  • Be respectful when choosing the place to scatter the ashes so that it is not near any buildings, fishermen, site entrances or exits.
  • The location should be more than 1 km upstream of anywhere water is pumped or collected.
  • Particularly beaches can have their fair share of windy days, choose one of the less windy days and scatter the ashes as close to the water’s surface as possible.
  • Anything else that is spread with the ashes must also be biodegradable, so spreading the ashes alone is the best way to do it.
Lake With Trees

What about outside of the UK? 

Are you considering scattering ashes somewhere outside of the UK? As long as you follow these set of guidelines below, you will be able to easily travel with ashes on a plane to set your Loved one free in another part of the world. 

  1. You will need a certified copy of the death certificate and the cremation certificate.
  2. The ashes must be stored in a non-metallic urn or container.
  3. The urn for ashes must be carried in your hand luggage. 
  4. Speak to your chosen airline in advance in case they have any specific guidelines for travelling with ashes on their aircrafts. 
  5. Request a statement from the crematorium to authenticate that the urn only contains the ashes of your loved one which matches the death and cremation certificates. 
  6. Research the country of your travel destination for specific advice on what to do when you arrive, alternatively, you can contact the embassy of the country for direct information.
Plane Sky Clouds

Scattering ashes can be an expressive and symbolic way to send your loved one on their final journey. Whether it be close to home, always watching over family and friends, or far away, constantly exploring the world via the oceans. If you already have a special location in mind but you are unsure of what the environmental recommendations for that spot may be, you can contact the Environment Agency directly by calling 08708 506 506 or email enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk to discuss the matter further.

We hope this article has been informative and helped answer some of the key questions surrounding the laws and regulations about scattering ashes in the UK. 

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