When a loved one passes, many people will choose to scatter the ashes in a location with a special connection to the person who has died.

But, do you need permission? Where are you allowed to scatter ashes, and how do you you actually go about scattering them? It can be difficult to know exactly what the rules are.

When it comes to scattering ashes, you’ll want peace of mind that you’ve stayed true to your loved ones wishes, without breaking any laws and regulations.

In this article, we help to answer 6 of the most common questions around scattering ashes.

1. Where can you scatter ashes?

In the UK, you can scatter the ashes of your loved one in a variety of open places. This could be in a green space, over water, or on private land.

Some examples of popular places to scatter ashes include:

  • In a churchyard or cemetery.
  • In a national park or public land.
  • At sea, in rivers or body of water.
  • On private land.

If you decide to choose one of the options above, you may need to request permission in certain areas. We explore this further below.

Looking for more ideas? Read our blog on 5 popular places to scatter ashes in the UK.

2. Do you need permission to scatter ashes?

In the UK, there is no exact law that prohibits the scattering of ashes, just as long as you get permission from the person who owns the land.

When it comes to burying or scattering ashes in the UK, the laws state that:

  • You don’t need permissions to scatter ashes on your own land or over a body of water.
  • To scatter ashes over public of private land, you need to request permission from the landowner. This includes parks, beaches, and churchyards.
  • You don’t need permission to scatter ashes over a river or at sea, but you should get advice from the environmental agency first.
  • If you are burying the ashes, rather than scattering, different rules apply.

3. Can you scatter ashes in a grave or cemetery?


Whilst cemeteries can be a popular place to scatter ashes, not all cemeteries will allow you to do this. Check with the cemetery directly for their rules.

It is possible to bury the ashes into an existent family plot in a cemetery or churchyard if scattering is not possible. This may be an alternative way of bringing together family remains when there is no space in an old churchyard or cemetery.

4. Can ashes be scattered on public land?


If you are looking to scatter ashes on public land or in green spaces, you’ll need to request permission from the local council.

Thankfully, most local councils and park trusts, such as the National Trust, do allow this as long as the environmental guidelines are followed.

5. Can you shatter ashes at sea or in rivers?


You don’t need permission to scatter ashes at sea or over water. However, there are some environmental guidelines to consider:

  • Ensure the place you choose is not near a fishery or marina.
  • Make sure the site is no less than 1km upstream from a fishery or marina.
  • If you can, choose a day with calm weather so that ashes are not blown into neighbouring areas. 

6. How do I go about scattering ashes?

Here are some of our tips on scattering ashes in the UK, which follow UK guidance.

  • Scatter in a secluded area, away from other people.
  • Be aware of the environment. Avoid areas of special conservation, and don’t leave non-biodegradable objects, like the urn, behind.
  • Avoid scattering ashes during busy periods, such as Bank Holidays, if you can.
  • Try to choose a day with calm weather.
  • Avoid scattering ashes on land where animals are grazing.
  • Use an ashes scattering container, or ‘scatter tube’ to help you scatter ashes in a controlled way.
  • There are more ashes than you think. Try not to tip them out in one go. Instead, try to spread them around.

Looking for further advice about direct cremations?

We hope this has helped to answer your questions when it comes to scattering the ashes of a loved one. But, if you need further advice on this topic, or you are looking to arrange a direct cremation, contact our friendly team today.

Our simple, fully-inclusive pre-paid funeral plan starts at just £1,450 and it’s guaranteed at today’s price. We’re available 24/7, whenever you need us.

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Give us a call if you need funeral advice, would like to arrange a direct cremation, or if you have any questions. We're available 24 hours a day.

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