Beaches are beautiful places full of wonderful memories for most people, so they make a fantastic final resting place. The scattering of human remains isn’t as hotly regulated as the burial of a body, but you still need to understand the rules.
Scattering ashes on a beach is allowed only with prior permission from the landowner or authorities. You can scatter ashes on the beach itself, but you should be mindful of other people when doing this. Pouring ashes directly into the sea from the shore is, however, not permissible in most places.
Although perhaps the most beautiful way to be lain to rest, scattering ashes at a beach is no picnic. There are certain hoops to jump through and the rules are not always the same in the USA as they are in other countries.
So, I invite you to read the rest of this article for more information.
Ashes cannot be cast directly into the ocean from the seashore and the EPA actually discourages scattering on beaches and in wading pools. When scattering ashes in the US you always need the permission of the landowner, even on a beach. Burying the ashes in the sand is another popular alternative.
Beaches, both those on the coast and around the major American lakes, are either privately owned or taken care of by local authorities. In all cases, you really need to ask permission to scatter the ashes .
Often a privately owned beach is the best option as they may not be aware of any policies from the Environmental Protection Agency.
It is highly likely that if you ask, even on a public lakeshore beach, that you will be given permission. Quite often you will be asked to carry out the ceremony at a particular point on the beach, normally around rocky areas, and during certain times or seasons.
However, it’s very important that you adhere to regulations that protect the environment, particularly the Federal Clean Water Act.
In the USA, the Federal Clean Water Act is connected with the regulation of burial at sea and this includes scattering ashes. The rules are strict and dictate that any such burial/scattering should be done at least “three nautical miles from land and in ocean waters at least 600 feet deep“.
Another great option is to get the ashes made into a permanent piece of jewelry, you should check out the beautiful handcrafted pieces Mark Hamilton makes with cremains by visiting his site here .
There are three ways that you can scatter ashes on a beach
Although this sounds simple, it can go quite wrong. You need to be careful of doing this on a very windy day, especially when the direction of the wind keeps turning.
Ideally, you should buy a special type of urn for scattering ashes, like this on which you can buy on Amazon. This makes it much easier to smoothly spread the ashes into the wind.
Make sure that you have the wind to your back so that the ashes will be blown away from you. Say your goodbyes, then open the urn and swiftly pour out all of the contents.
Often called ‘Trenching’, this method involves digging a shallow trench below the water line and pouring the ashes in. When the tide comes in, the ashes will be swept into the sea and spread that way.
This is best done off-season, or where there aren’t any holidaymakers.
You can also spread the ashes into the sea from the shore using a water-soluble urn (Link to Amazon). This allows you to go into the water to have your ceremony and then watch as the ashes float away before being submerged by the dissolving urn.
However, it’s always best practice to try and limit the effects on the environment by only scattering the ashes which won’t harm the environment. Don’t throw any other materials into the sea which might not break down as easily.
Link to Amazon
Link to Amazon
Link to Amazon
The United States Environmental Protection Agency which governs burial at sea doesn’t regulate the scattering of ashes in internal bodies of water such as lakes and rivers, this is handled by local government.
In some cases, the Clean Water Act will still require that remains be disposed of 3 nautical miles from the shore and in a depth of 600 feet of water. Of course, this won’t always be possible at your local lake. So, you’ll need to contact your local government office.
Below, you’ll find the phone number and address of your state office or Governer’s office who will be able to assist you further.State Address Phone number URL Alabama 103 North Perry St Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 625-4636 website Alaska P.O. Box 110001 Juneau, AK, 99811-0001 (907) 269-5100 website Arizona 1910 W Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85009 602-252-6563 website Arkansas State Capitol Room 250 500 Woodlane Ave. Little Rock, AR, 72201 (501) 374-3484 website California 1100 K Street, Suite 101, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 327-7500 website Colorado State Capitol Building 200 E. Colfax Ave., Rm. 136 Denver, CO 80203 (303) 866-2885 website Connecticut 210 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT, 06106 860-424-3000 website Delaware Court St. Dover, DE, 19901 (302) 739-6242 website Florida The Capitol 400 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL, 32399-0001 850.245.6700 website Georgia 206 Washington Street Suite 203, State Capitol Atlanta, GA, 30334 (404) 584-1000 website Hawaii Executive Chambers State Capitol Honolulu, HI, 96813 (808) 587-0400 website Idaho State Capitol PO Box 83720 Boise, ID, 83720 (208) 373-0502 website Illinois 207 State House Springfield, IL, 62706 217-782-6830 website Indiana Office of the Governor Statehouse Indianapolis, IN, 46204 (800) 451-6027 website Iowa State Capitol 1007 East Grand Ave. Des Moines, IA, 50319 (877) 426-4692 website Kansas Capitol 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 241S Topeka, KS, 66612-1590 785-272-2585 website Kentucky 700 Capitol Avenue Suite 100 Frankfort, KY, 40601 (502) 564-0323 website Louisiana 900 North 3rd Street Baton Rouge, LA, 70802 800.354.9548 website Maine Eastside Campus Ray Building, Augusta, ME 207-287-7688 website Maryland 100 Community Place, Crownsville, MD 21032 1-877-634-6361 website Massachusetts Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St. Office of the Governor, Room 280 Boston, MA, 02133 1-888-870-7770 website Michigan P.O. Box 30013 Lansing, MI, 48909 800-662-9278 website Minnesota 130 State Capitol 75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard Saint Paul, MN, 55155 651-296-6300 website Mississippi P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS, 39205 1-601-359-3150 website Missouri P.O. Box 720 Jefferson City, MO, 65102 573-751-3222 website Montana PO Box 200801 Helena, MT, 59620-0801 406-444-3111 website Nebraska P.O. Box 94848 Lincoln, NE, 68509-4848 402-471-2244 website Nevada State Capitol Building 101 N. Carson Street Carson City, NV, 89701 1-775-684-5670 website New Hampshire 107 North Main Street Concord, NH, 03301 603-271-2121 website New Jersey Office of Governor PO Box 001 Trenton, NJ, 08625 1-609-292-6000 website New Mexico 490 Old Santa Fe Trail Room 400 Santa Fe, NM, 87501 505-476-2200 website New York NYS State Capitol Building Albany, NY, 12224 518-474-8390 website North Carolina 20301 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC, 27699-0301 1-919-814-2000 website North Dakota 600 East Boulevard Avenue Bismarck, ND, 58505-010 701-328-2200 website Ohio Riffe Center, 30th Floor Columbus, OH, 43215 614-644-4357 websit e Oklahoma 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard Oklahoma City, OK, 73105 1-800-955-3468 website Oregon 900 Court Street, Suite 254 Salem, OR, 97301 503-378-4582 website Pennsylvania Office of the Governor 508 Main Capitol Building 508 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, PA, 17120 717-787-2500 website Rhode Island 82 Smith Street Providence, RI, 02903 1-401- 222-2080 website South Carolina 1100 Gervais Street Columbia, SC, 29201 1-803-734-2100 website South Dakota 500 East Capitol Ave. Pierre, SD, 57501 1-605-773-3212 website Tennessee 1st Floor, State Capitol Nashville, TN, 37243 615-741-2001 website Texas P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX, 78711-2428 1-512-463-2000 website Utah 350 North State Street, Suite 200 PO Box 142220 Salt Lake City, UT, 84114-2220 800-705-2464 website Vermont 109 State Street, Pavilion Montpelier, VT, 05609 802 828-3333 website Virginia P.O. Box 1475 Richmond, VA, 23218 804-786-2211 website Washington PO Box 40002 Olympia, WA, 98504-0002 360-902-4111 website West Virginia 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, E Charleston, WV, 25305 888-438-2731 website Wisconsin P.O. Box 7863 Madison, WI, 53707 608-266-1212 website Wyoming 200 W 24th Street Cheyenne, WY, 82002 307-777-7434 website
It is not illegal to scatter human ashes on a beach in the UK, however, you should request permission from the landowner before doing this. The Environmental Agency does insist that no bio-degradable materials are discarded in the process of scattering human remains.
In the UK, cremated remains aren’t seen as particularly harmful to water sources but the containers they come in can be. When scattering ashes on a beach, either on the sand or in the sea, make sure that you don’t throw away any plastic or other material that won’t break down easily.
Before having your ceremony, find a contact number for the person or organization that owns the beach and ask permission. Usually, there will be no issue, but you don’t want a rude interruption during your solemn moment.
There are no specific laws that prohibit Canadians from scattering ashes on a beach except when it is privately owned. If a legal cremation has taken place the family is free to dispose of the ashes in any public place. Permission should be asked from the local landowner or municipality to be sure.
Canada, like many places in the world, allows you to scatter the ashes of your loved ones on your own property as well as in most public parks and communal land. However, you should always give your local government office a call just to be on the safe side.
If you do choose to scatter ashes on a beach make sure that it is not occupied by others, as this can be off-putting, and don’t leave any material which could pollute the local environment, such as plastic.
You are allowed to scatter ashes on most public beaches and in the ocean in Australia. It’s best to always ask permission from the landowner and to avoid using non-biodegradable containers if planning a water burial of cremated remains.
Australia is a country with a strong beach culture and it’s no wonder that many people would want to be scattered over their favorite beach. In most cases, there is no issue in doing this, but you should always double-check which beaches in your area allow you to do this.
Consider working with a company that does this on a regular basis so that they can give you the correct assistance. Also, if you plan to scatter the ashes in the ocean, consider using a water-soluble container (link to Amazon)so that you can have a floating send-off for your loved one.
You do not need official permission to scatter human remains in the sea or other bodies of water within the United Kingdom. When scattering ashes on private land or in protected environments you should always seek advice from the landowner.
The laws on scattering ashes in the UK are fairly non-existent and you would not be breaking the law by disposing of your loved one in the sea.
It is possible to scatter human remains in the Thames river but you will need to get permission from the Port of London Authority first. You won’t be required to apply for a license or permit but you may have to pay to rent a suitable river craft for the process.
Contrary to the the popular episode from Only Fools And Horses, Ashes to Ashes, where Del Boy and Rodney struggle to get rid of some cremated ashes , you don’t actually need a permit to dispose of ashes in the River Thames; but you do need permission.
You should call up the Port of London Authority who will help you with your request to legally scatter ashes on the Thames.
The Australian government doesn’t require you to have a permit to scatter ashes in the ocean or rivers. You do need permission to scatter ashes on private property, but this doesn’t apply to water burials in most cases. Burying a body at sea does require permission and a special permit, however.
As with many countries, Australia doesn’t have any firm laws or regulations about scattering ashes in the sea . As long as you aren’t polluting the oceans and only pour in organic materials there will be no issues from the local authorities or for the local environment.