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Scattering Ashes Law, Cremation Ashes Regulations and Permits in UK

Scattering Ashes Law

Can you scatter ashes anywhere? The law on scattering ashes in the UK is fairly relaxed. There is nothing explicit in the legislation to stop people scattering ashes over land or water. However, you need the landowner’s permission.

We have collected the positions of various landowners, see our section on Permission and policies of landowners

If you choose to scatter on a river – you don’t need permission, but you should consult the Environment Agencies Guidance.

If you wish to scatter over the sea – you don’t need permits or permission. You should still follow the Environment Agency’s guidance as their jurisdiction is 5 miles from the coast.

Burial Law

Burial or scattering at a family grave – Firstly not all cemeteries allow scattering. If you want to bury them, then you will need to make sure that you are the have the rights to do this.  You will need to contact the cemetery to find this out.

We have specific pages on Interment of ashes  (the formal name for burial of ashes) and Informal burying of ashes  (burying ashes in your garden for example).

There are strict rules around Exhumation (this is the formal name for removing or digging ashes up) here is the main page – Exhumation. We have also collected a lot of  legal cases to give an insight into what the courts think – Exhumation case law

What the law does say about cremation ashes

In law ashes are considered to be the same as a body, and you can’t own a body: a court can’t divide a body therefore the court can’t divide up ashes either.

If somebody in the family has the ashes and wishes a different resting place for them, see if the are willing share some of the ashes with you for a token scattering/burial or for you to hold onto in a keepsake. There is no law against splitting ashes.

There has been a number of court cases regarding ashes we have captured most them in the following posts.

Scattering Ashes Law


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