Can I Scatter Ashes On A Beach (USA, UK, Canada, Australia)?

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.

woman scattering ashes in water

Scattering cremated ashes on a beach in the US

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.

Methods to scatter ashes on a beach

There are three ways that you can scatter ashes on a beach

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Method 1: Scatter it to the wind

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.

Method 2: Bury the ashes in the sand

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.

Method 3: A floating burial

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.

Recommended products for scattering ashes

Biodegradable Urn (Floating burials)

Link to Amazon

 Eco Scattering Urn 

Link to Amazon

Biodegradable Urn For Scattering

Link to Amazon

Scattering ashes in lakes and rivers in the USA

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.

StateAddressPhone numberURL
Alabama103 North Perry St
Montgomery, AL 36104
(334) 625-4636website
AlaskaP.O. Box 110001
Juneau, AK, 99811-0001
(907) 269-5100website
Arizona1910 W Jefferson,
Phoenix, AZ 85009
ArkansasState Capitol Room 250
500 Woodlane Ave. Little Rock, AR, 72201
(501) 374-3484website
California1100 K Street, Suite 101,
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 327-7500website
ColoradoState Capitol Building
200 E. Colfax Ave., Rm. 136
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 866-2885website
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT, 06106
DelawareCourt St.
Dover, DE, 19901
(302) 739-6242website
FloridaThe Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL, 32399-0001
206 Washington Street
Suite 203, State Capitol
Atlanta, GA, 30334
(404) 584-1000website
HawaiiExecutive Chambers
State Capitol
Honolulu, HI, 96813
(808) 587-0400website
IdahoState Capitol
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID, 83720
(208) 373-0502website
Illinois207 State House
Springfield, IL, 62706
IndianaOffice of the Governor
Indianapolis, IN, 46204
(800) 451-6027website
State Capitol
1007 East Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA, 50319
(877) 426-4692website
300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 241S
Topeka, KS, 66612-1590
Kentucky700 Capitol Avenue
Suite 100
Frankfort, KY, 40601
(502) 564-0323website
Louisiana900 North 3rd Street
Baton Rouge, LA, 70802
MaineEastside Campus Ray Building,
Augusta, ME
Maryland100 Community Place, Crownsville,
MD 21032
Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St.
Office of the Governor, Room 280
Boston, MA, 02133
MichiganP.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI, 48909
Minnesota130 State Capitol
75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard
Saint Paul, MN, 55155
MississippiP.O. Box 139
Jackson, MS, 39205
MissouriP.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO, 65102
MontanaPO Box 200801
Helena, MT, 59620-0801
NebraskaP.O. Box 94848
Lincoln, NE, 68509-4848
NevadaState Capitol Building
101 N. Carson Street
Carson City, NV, 89701
New Hampshire107 North Main Street
Concord, NH, 03301
New JerseyOffice of Governor PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ, 08625
New Mexico490 Old Santa Fe Trail Room 400
Santa Fe, NM, 87501
New YorkNYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY, 12224
North Carolina20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC, 27699-0301
North Dakota600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND, 58505-010
OhioRiffe Center, 30th Floor
Columbus, OH, 43215
Oklahoma2300 North Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK, 73105
Oregon900 Court Street,
Suite 254 Salem, OR, 97301
PennsylvaniaOffice of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building 508
Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, PA, 17120
Rhode Island82 Smith Street
Providence, RI, 02903
1-401- 222-2080website
South Carolina1100 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC, 29201
South Dakota500 East Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD, 57501
Tennessee1st Floor, State Capitol
Nashville, TN, 37243
TexasP.O. Box 12428 Austin,
TX, 78711-2428
Utah350 North State Street, Suite 200
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, UT, 84114-2220
Vermont109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT, 05609
802 828-3333website
VirginiaP.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA, 23218
WashingtonPO Box 40002
Olympia, WA, 98504-0002
West Virginia1900 Kanawha Boulevard,
E Charleston, WV, 25305
WisconsinP.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI, 53707
Wyoming200 W 24th
Street Cheyenne, WY, 82002


Scattering cremated ashes on a beach in the UK

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.

Scattering cremated ashes on a beach in Canada

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.


Scattering cremated ashes on a beach in Australia

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.

Do you need permission to scatter ashes in the sea UK?

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.

Can you scatter ashes in the River Thames?

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.

Can you scatter ashes in the ocean in Australia?

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.

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