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Is it possible to have ashes scattered at sea? Are there any restrictions?

My husband was a keen sea angler and we have been looking at options for the disposal of his ashes by organising a small ceremony on a boat and then organising a scattering at sea. My daughter says we can just do this from one of the cross channel ferries but I have been told that burial at sea is illegal unless you use special areas and get a license from the government. Do you have any guidance or advice?

BURIAL at sea (ie the disposal of a whole uncremated body) is legal and while it does need a licence from the Marine Maritime Authority and certain rules must be followed, it is surprisingly easy to organise. The rules vary depending on whether you are in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but we have specialist firms that would be able to assist were a “burial at sea” what you were seeking to achieve.

However your proposal for an ashes scattering of cremated remains has few restrictions within inshore waters and the advantage is that —with a little pre-planning which we have now agreed with you— your husband’s last journey might be similar to the enjoyable trips he undertook on inshore boats many times. This will hence be a safer and more appropriate experience to disposal from a ferry, when the ferry speed and winds may result in your husband’s remains being blown back over the people taking part in the ceremony as well as possibly being against the rules of carriage.

For a far more respectful and comfortable alternative our service provider Scattering Ashes has connections with many professional skippers and boat owners around the Great Britain and Ireland.

These seamen are experienced in hosting scattering ceremonies and can host a dedicated ceremony on a properly organised sailing at your convenience with you, your family and perhaps a priest or other celebrant present.

Ceremonies for Hindu and Sikhs can be carried out in estuaries on flowing water and we can provide both a Hindu Ceremony Set and a Sikh Ceremony Set to meet your needs. For others we have more that 20 water urns and ceremony sets available which will prevent ashes blowing around in the wind.

Your husband’s last journey will be on a boat specifically chartered for the occasion meaning the ceremony can take any form, religious, spiritual or secular, that you wish.

We trust this free advice is useful to you. Should you need any further free advice or assistance on any funeral matter our helpdesk and concierge teams will be happy to help.

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Bereavement support and non-financial advice services are delivered through of The Bereavement Advice Service CIC. The Bereavement Advice Service CIC is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee, Registration Number: 13288315.

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