Scattering Ashes - Laws & Regulations

Scattering Ashes - Laws & Regulations

Scattering ashes is an act of memorialization and isn’t a normal state matter (outside of state-controlled parks and lands). This makes it difficult to find an appropriate answer.

If your scattering ashes ceremony is to be held within a city or town limits, city/town ordinance and bylaws should be consulted.

If your scattering ceremony is to be held outside of city or town limits then municipal or county ordinance and bylaws should be consulted.

That said, Cremation Solutions' standard response to scattering ashes mirrors that of our government.


There are no "scattering ashes police" in any state to ensure proper etiquette, permits, or permissions are obtained and used. There are no health, safety or environmental issues to be concerned about. Your own moral compass/judgment can be equally right within the reasons of common sense.

Private Property

It’s a good practice to get the permission to scatter ashes from the landowner if you want to scatter on private land.

Controlled Public Lands

Most controlled lands such as public city parks have rules and regulations, and require permits.

Uncontrolled Public Lands

When it comes to non-specific public land (e.g. rural woodlands) "don’t ask, don’t tell" is as fitting advice as any. No laws say "yes, you may" and no laws say "no, you may not."

Be advised that cremated remains or as most people call them "ashes" can be stark white, a little like aquarium gravel, and therefore rather conspicuous, not at all like ashes from a fireplace. You may wish to consider a shallow burial unless you’re scattering ashes in water. It is also highly advisable to use roads (areas) less traveled for the ash scattering ceremony; cremation and/or scattering ashes is offensive to many people and cultures.

As a guide, you should not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads, walks or public trails.

Within all the literary writings at all levels - federal, state, and local legislation - the only commonly agreed point of principle I have found is that the container which carries the remains must be disposed of separately - preferably in a waste receptacle.

Requirements for burying remains at sea are listed below. Burials in inland waters are regulated according to the Clean Water Act. For inland water burial, a permit is required from the appropriate state agency.

Please note the requirement that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be notified within 30 days after burial.

EPA Requirements For Scattering Ashes at Sea

Disposal location and measures of non-cremated remains

Burial at sea of human remains that are not cremated shall take place at least 3 nautical miles from land and in water at least 600 feet deep. Certain areas, including east central Florida, the Dry Tortugas, Florida and west of Pensacola, Florida to the Mississippi River Delta, require water at least 1800 feet deep. Refer to the Code of Federal Regulations at 40 CFR 229.1 (PDF) (1 p, 149K, About PDF) for details. All necessary measures shall be taken to ensure that the remains sink to the bottom rapidly and permanently.

Disposal location and measures of cremated remains

Cremated remains shall be buried in or on ocean waters without regard to the depth limitations specified for non-cremated remains in the above paragraph provided that such burial takes place at least three nautical miles from land.

Decomposable flowers and wreaths

Flowers and wreaths consisting of materials that are readily decomposable in the marine environment may be placed at the burial site.

Notice to EPA within 30 days

 All burials conducted shall be reported within 30 days to the EPA Region in writing. The following information should be included and mailed or faxed to the Region 4 contact at the bottom of this page. You can copy the information below or complete and print the Region 4 burial at sea form (PDF) (1 p, 228K, About PDF).

Cremated (  )Non-Cremated (  )
 Distance from shore:
(minimum of 3 nautical miles)
 Depth of water:  
 Did the remains appear to rapidly sink to the ocean floor?
Yes (  )      No (  )


For More Information in Region 4

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4
   Attn: Gary Collins
   61 Forsyth Street Southwest
   Atlanta, GA 30303
   Phone: (404) 562-9395   Fax: (404) 562-9343
   E-Mail: Gary Collins (


Burial at Sea Contacts in Other EPA Regions

Region 1:

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

Ann Rodney (
Burial at Sea Coordinator
US EPA Region 1
1 Congress St.
Boston, MA 02114-2023
(617) 918-1538

Region 2:

New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Patricia Pechko (
Burial At Sea Coordinator
US EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
New York, NY 10007-1866
(212) 637-3796

Region 3:

District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia

Renee Searfoss ( )
Burial At Sea Coordinator
EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 814-2137

Region 6:

Lousiana and Texas

Stephen Bainter (
Burial At Sea Coordinator
US EPA Region 6
1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200
Dallas, TX 75202-2733
(214) 665-2793

Region 9:

California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas and Trust Territories

Allan Ota (
Burial At Sea Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region 9
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 972-3476

Region 10:

Alaska, Oregon and Washington

Chris Meade, AK Ocean Dumping Coordinator, 907-586-7622

U.S. EPA Region 10
Regional Administrator's Office, RA-140
1200 Sixth Avenue Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98101
907-586-7622 or (206) 553-1761
Fax: (206) 553-1775

For information about the contents of this page please contact Gary Collins


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