Ashes can be scattered almost anywhere in the UK, as long as you have permission from the landowner first. If you’re thinking about scattering ashes at sea or on a river, you don’t need a permit, but you should follow the Environment Agency’s guidance.
UK laws and regulations on scattering ashes
You can scatter ashes anywhere in the UK if you have permission from the landowner. This means that, if you own your own home and want to scatter your loved one’s ashes across the lawn or as part of a garden feature, you can do so without needing a permit.
If you want to scatter the ashes at sea or over a river, you don’t usually need to ask for permission – but it’s important to follow the Environment Agency’s guidance to help protect the local habitat.
Where can you scatter ashes in the UK?
In the UK, you can scatter ashes everywhere from the park, to the beach, to your loved one’s favourite sports stadium. Most landowners are happy for ashes to be scattered on their land, but it’s worth contacting them to get permission first.
Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular places for scattering ashes, as well as some of the permissions or guidelines you may need to follow:
Scattering ashes in a cemetery
If your loved one’s partner is buried in a local cemetery, you may wish to scatter their ashes over the grave so that they can be laid to rest together. This is a common choice for many families in the UK, and it’s also something many people include in the funeral wishes of their will.
If you own exclusive rights to the burial site, you should be able to scatter the ashes without asking for permission. But if your rights to the site have expired, you should contact the cemetery owner about it first.
Scattering ashes on private land
Many people choose to scatter ashes in their own garden to create a flower bed or garden feature. You can then place a tree or flowering plant in this spot as a colourful reminder of the person you’ve lost.
If you’re the homeowner, you won’t need to ask for anyone’s permission before doing this. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you may not be able to revisit the site if you decide to move house in the future.
For any other private land – such as parks, meadows and country walks – you should contact the landowner first. Most people are happy for ashes to be scattered on their land, but they may have some advice that can help you on the day.
Scattering ashes on a mountain or hill
When people think about scattering ashes, they often picture them rushing away in the wind from a high peak or cliff edge. So it’s only natural that mountains, hills and other beauty spots are popular choices for families.
If you’re thinking of scattering ashes on a mountain or steep hill, it’s best to scatter them fairly low down. Not only will this make it easier for your loved ones to revisit the site in the future, but it can also help to protect the fragile plants near the peak.
As with any private land, it’s also best to speak to the landowner before scattering the ashes.
Scattering ashes at sea or on a river
Another popular place to scatter someone’s ashes is at sea or over a river. This is often a good choice if you’re scattering the ashes as part of a memorial service, as you can share stories while watching the ashes drift away.
You don’t need permission to scatter ashes over water, but there are a few guidelines from the Environment Agency that you should follow:
The place you choose to scatter the ashes shouldn’t be near any buildings, marinas or people bathing or fishing
The place you choose should also be more than 1km upstream of anywhere water is pumped or collected (also known as water abstraction)
The ashes should be spread as close to the water’s surface as possible, and you should avoid windy days so they don’t affect people living or working nearby
You shouldn’t place anything else in the water with the ashes, such as personal items or wreaths
You can download the Environment Agency’s guidance here or call them directly on 08708 506 506 if you have any questions.
Scattering ashes on a beach
When the weather’s right, the coast can be a beautiful place for scattering ashes. You can do this by casting the ashes into the wind, or you could scatter them into a shallow hole in the sand and wait for the waves to wash them away.
Most beaches in the UK let families scatter ashes across the sand or rocks, but you should get in touch with them about it first. You can usually find a contact number by searching for the beach online. You’ll also need to choose a time that’s quiet so the ashes don’t affect anyone swimming or sunbathing.
Scattering ashes at a stadium
If your loved one was a lifelong sports fan, it may be possible to scatter the ashes at their favourite team’s stadium. Some teams have special days where they open the stadium for memorials, allowing you to scatter the ashes directly onto the pitch. You should be able to find out more about this by calling the number on the club’s website.
Can you scatter ashes at sea in the UK?
Yes, you can scatter ashes at sea in the UK. You don’t usually need permission for this, but it’s worth taking a look at the Environment Agency’s guidance for tips on protecting the local environment.
If you already have somewhere in mind and want to talk to the Environment Agency about it directly, you can give them a call on 08708 506 506.
Can you take ashes on a plane?
Yes, you can take ashes on a plane if you want to scatter them in another part of the world. To do this, you’ll need a certified copy of the death certificate and the cremation certificate. The ashes should also be stored in a non-metallic urn or container and carried in your hand luggage.
To make your travel plans as easy and straightforward as possible, you should:
Speak to the airline operator in advance in case they have any specific guidelines or advice
Get a statement from the crematorium to confirm that the urn only contains the ashes of your loved one
Contact the embassy of the country you’re travelling to for specific advice about what to do when you arrive
You can scatter ashes almost anywhere in the UK after a cremation, as long as you have permission from the landowner first.
Ashes can be scattered at sea or on a river without permission, but you need to follow the Environment Agency’s guidelines.
If you’re thinking about scattering ashes on a mountain or hill, you should do this fairly low down to help protect fragile plants near the peak.
Some sports stadiums have special days for memorials and scattering ashes – you can find out more about these by contacting the club directly.
If you want to take ashes on a plane to scatter them overseas, you should contact your airline and the embassy of the country you’re flying to first.