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Laws and Regulations With Scattering Ashes

mountain views in virginia

With the rising popularity of cremation, it is likely that you or a loved one may consider cremation over a traditional burial. There are lots of reasons why it’s a good option, including the fact that it’s less costly than burial, involves less labor, and it’s better for the environment than being buried in a grave.

However, many people don’t know what they want to do with a loved one’s ashes after cremation. There are more laws and regulations for ash scattering than you may realize— so make sure you know the rules governing where and how ashes can be spread.

Laws For Scattering Cremated Ashes

Regulations on spreading ashes are predominantly enforced and managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. A large portion of the restrictions over how and where you spread ashes come from property disputes or environmental safety concerns.

One of the best ways to make sure that your loved one’s ashes are scattered legally is to contact an ash scattering service. These little-known businesses, like Rest Ashured, know the laws in their areas and can ensure that cremated ash is scattered properly.  Rest Ashured offers a mountain scatter garden, a memory tree, and even burial at sea along the shores of Virginia Beach, Topsail Island, North Carolina, or in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Scattering Ashes in the Ocean

scattering ashes in the ocean

Having a burial at sea for your cremated loved one is harder than you may think. Due to the potential for pollution and environmental concerns, the EPA regulates what you can put in the waters in and around the USA.

You are legally allowed to spread ashes at sea as long as you are no more than three nautical miles off the coast. However ashes, and other organic items like flowers, are the only things you are allowed to spread. Anything else you decide to put in the water in considered a pollutant and is illegal under the Clean Water Act. By federal law, scattering ashes in wading pools or directly on beaches is illegal.

Rest Ashured’s burial at sea service takes place in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Virginia or North Carolina.

Ash Scattering in Rivers and Lakes

If you have plans to scatter your loved one’s ashes in inland waters, definitely check with the EPA as well as the local authorities beforehand. Often, you’ll need a special permit to scatter your loved one’s ashes in a local waterway. Make sure you apply for these permits in advance, especially if you and your family members plan on having a ceremony for the scattering.

Ash Scattering Elsewhere

There is also a concern about spreading your ashes on private land. If you choose to scatter your ashes in land you own or on certain public lands, that is typically allowed. However, if you decide to spread your ashes on someone else’s property, you must get the permission of the landowner.

Theme Parks

Places such as National Parks and theme parks are very common places to want to scatter ashes. National parks are public land, and you simply need a permit. These permits are usually rather affordable, between $25-75 per permit.

However, theme parks are considered private property. Scattering ashes in those places will, at best, get you removed. Often, the ashes won’t stay where you scattered them, the employees have to remove them in theme parks like Disney World.

Scatter Gardens

Scattering gardens are a great option for people looking for a public area in which to scatter their loved one’s ashes. Often, cemeteries have scatter gardens that you can use. They can cost money, but it depends on the scattering garden options in your area.

Memory trees are another potential scattering garden option. A memory tree is a tree that’s been planted for your loved one, with their ashes scattered at the roots during the planting process.

Rest Ashured’s scattering garden is uniquely located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with views of the James River. Memorial stones and memory trees for people’s loved ones are close to the beautiful space.

Aerial Scattering

Having your loved one’s ashes released from an airplane has become very common in recent years. While you’re allowed to travel with cremated ashes in your carry on bag on most airlines, it’s not recommended. And there’s really no way to release the ashes in a sealed passenger plane. This means it’s significantly easier to hire a service specifically for this.

Because of the disparity between the laws across states and localities, and because of the federal regulation of scattered ashes, it can be difficult to figure out what to do. It’s often safest to hire a specialist to scatter the ashes to ensure your loved one gets the final resting place they deserve!