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Burying ashes in the garden and other informal settings

Burying ashes in an informal setting

If you are thinking burying ashes outside of a formal burial ground such as a churchyard or cemetery here are some things you should know.  If you have decided on a more formal burial please visit our page on interment of ashes.

It is important to understand that in law cremation ashes are treated the same as a body so therefore similar rules apply.

A lot of people do not follow these rules because:

  • they think isn't anyone else's business;
  • this is a temporary solution and they intend to inter them somewhere more formally later on.
  • they don't know that there are any rules;

We can only advise you to follow the legal path, but it's down to you and if you choose to comply then read on...

Burying ashes in your garden, private land, or other informal setting

To be very clear this advice only applies if you are putting the ashes in a box/urn and burying them in the ground.  Due to the way the law is written the following advice doesn't apply to the scattering of ashes. The Environment Agency restrictions only apply when burying a body. This is because as a body would have the potential to pollute water. So effectively it does not apply to ashes as these do not pollute the water.  Plus you don't need to worry about planning permission either.

Must do's

  • Check if there is someone who owns the freehold? You will need their permission.
  • Are there any restrictions or restricted convents on the land?
  • The person organising the burial needs a a Certificate of Authority for Burial from the Registrar of Births & Deaths beforehand. This is not as ounur as it sound sas it is normally issued when the death is registered (this is commonly known as 'the green form'.)
  • The landowner  on which the burial has taken place must prepare and keep a Burial Register in a safe place which can be passed onto future owners of the land. (Registration of Burials Act 1864). Please note -  since 2002 The Land Registry does not hold or keep this information. A Burial Register is a document that records details of the deceased and of the burial, including an accompanying plan showing the grave’s location.
  • The slip which is attached to the bottom of the Certificate for Burial or Cremation must be completed with the date and place of the burial, and returned to the Registrar of Births & Deaths within 4 days.
  • The landowner or homeowner needs to keep a burial register in a safe place, this isn't an official document so does not need to be anything too formal.
  • Finally if you register the burial and wish to retrieve the ashes or remove them you will need to have a exhumation order. See our page on exhumation.

Should do's

  • There are currently no rules on the depth which the ashes have to be buried. Advice we have obtained suggests three foot (90cm) or greater is usual
  • We would advise if you are burying cremation ashes choose an urn appropriate for where you are choosing to bury. Basically, if you intend to remove at a later point make sure the material used is robust enough to be moved.


Burying ashes in an informal setting

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