Scattering ashes at sea on a river or a lake

Scattering ashes at sea or on a river is great way to give a loved one a really nice send-off and research suggests that those who scatter find the presence of water after that very comforting.

If you choose the sea then then you should aware that

  • For the UK you do not need a licence to spread ashes in tidal coastal water
  • For the USA you need to go out three nautical miles and then inform the EPA – Guidance

If you choose a river you should be aware that the English Environment Agency say ‘It is acceptable’ with some provisos (download this leaflet – scattering ashes on rivers) – basically look out for others and don’t put anything in the river that will not degrade eg plastics.

You can choose to scatter the ashes from a boat or the shoreline / riverbank. The choice is yours and each has it advantages…

From a boat: if you have access to a boat you can do it yourself .  If not don’t worry we work with a number of boat companies that operate across the UK. Here is a map of them Boats on a Map

Advantages for a boat – no chance of being intruded upon, it is more private and you can reach more inaccessible places. Likely feel more of an occasion.

From the waters edge: on a beach, a bridge or the rivers edge – all make good venues, but be mindful of others and tide times, it is best to scatter the ashes below the tide line: tide times

Advantages for a shore line – no additional cost, choose your own timings and duration, no chance of seasickness!


If scattering funeral ashes on water, particularly from a boat you may wish consider getting an urn or container fit for the purpose. There are two main reason for this:

  • Firstly the finer ash particles get caught in the breeze and very often blow back and stick to the side of the boat,
  • The right sort urn will float for while and gently submerge below the surface allowing time to reflect or say some words. You can go to our page water urns. You may also wish to cast dried rose petals which is a nice touch when scattering over the waves. One last idea is Promises – notelets made from specialist paper that dissolve in the water allowing you to say those final words.

For more information visit or Methods Page


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