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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; they don’t know that there are any rules; they intend to inter them somewhere more formally later on have chosen a temporary solution. 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…

Firstly, due to the way the law is written the following advice doesn’t apply to scattering ashes. To be very clear this advice only applies if you are putting the ashes in a box/urn and burying them in the ground:

  • 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 Environment Agency restrictions only apply when burying a body, 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.
  • The person responsible for the burial needs to obtain a Certificate of Authority for Burial from the Registrar of Births & Deaths this needs to happen before the burial takes place.
  • 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.
  • You don’t need to worry about planning permission.
  • 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– if you are burying cremation ashes choose an urn appropriate for where you are choosing to bury.
  • We suggest that if you think you may need to move the ashes in the future that you chose a suitable waterproof container.
  • 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.

Burying ashes in an informal setting


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