Where Can I Legally Scatter Ashes?

Posted: 23/04/2018

Spreading the ashes of a loved one has become a popular ritual among mourners today, especially given the rise of cremations above burials in the UK today. For many, scattering ashes in important locations to the deceased has become a fundamental aspect of the funeral process. Many of us now request certain locations to have our ashes scattered prior to our deaths as part of our funeral arrangements. But are we allowed to scatter the ashes of the deceased anywhere we like?




The Law on Scattering Ashes – Private and Public Land

As a general rule, your ability to scatter ashes in any given location will depend on the landowner’s policy with regards to ash-scattering (if applicable). If you are planning to spread ashes on private land, you will need permission in most cases to do so. To retrieve this, you will need to contact the landowner of that area. On public land, there are usually fewer restrictions on scattering ashes. That being said, it is best to contact the local authority in that area to ensure that you will not be breaching any laws by scattering ashes in any public grounds.

Scattering in Churchyards or Cemeteries

You may wish to scatter a loved one’s ashes on a family burial plot, or simply within a churchyard of relevance. In order to do this legally, you should contact the owner of that land in before doing so, just as you would do with any private land.

Scattering at Home

For some, the ideal resting place for their ashes is within their own home. Subsequently, many people request for their ashes to be scattered in their gardens. There is usually no problem with doing this, but if you are not the legal owner of that property (perhaps it is rented), it is best practice to check with your landlord before doing this. Furthermore, you should consider that the property probably will not belong to you or your family member forever, so there is likely to be a time where the scattering plot cannot be visited by family members in the future. It is within the legal owner’s right to refuse any requests you might have to visit the site in the future.

Scattering in Water

It is possible to scatter ashes in water so long as the water in question does not connect to a water supply. To find out if the body of water, river or stream is acceptable to scatter ashes over or in, contact the local Environment Agency. It is important to be careful that you do not spread ashes over any precious wildlife that might live on the water, or people in the surrounding areas.




You may also wish to scatter ashes at sea. There are not usually restrictions on doing this, although, as always, it is best to check.

Dividing Ashes

The average human produces between 3 and 9 pounds of ashes. Because of this, many people do not choose one single location to scatter ashes, and instead, divide the ashes so that they can be spread at a number of locations or given to a number of people. No legal procedure is necessarily involved in the action of dividing ashes.

Scattering Ashes Abroad

It may be the case that you wish to scatter some or all of your loved one’s ashes abroad. Your ability to transport ashes by plane depends on the policy of the chosen airline. Some airlines will allow you to carry ashes in your hold luggage, and others may insist that they are carried by cargo or some other means. Always contact your transport provider for this information prior to your travels to avoid being told that you cannot carry ashes in your luggage on the day. In order to travel with ashes, you will usually need a certified death certificate and cremation certificate of the deceased.

How Perfect Funeral Plans Can Help

If you need help with making arrangements for scattering ashes, or any other aspect of the funeral planning process, get in contact with our helpful advisers at Perfect Funeral Plans and we will help you find a comprehensive and stress-free plan today!