Burial at Sea

Holding a Burial at Sea

The scattering of ashes at sea is preferred to burials because of the risk of a body being washed up by currents and tides.

As a result of this, there are only three areas around the coastline of England and Northern Ireland where burials at sea are allowed – off Tynemouth in North Tyneside, between Hastings and Newhaven in Sussex, and south of the needles off the Isle of Wight.

In Scotland there are two areas, west of Oban and west of John O’Groats.

For a burial at sea, you will need a Marine Licence from The Marine Management Organisation (MMO). They will want to check the Death Certificate, and will require a Certificate of Freedom from Fever and Infections (from the deceased person’s GP or hospital doctor) and a Notice of Intention to Remove a Body out of England (from the coroner in exchange for a Certificate of Disposal provided by the registrar).

For further details on how and where to get licences see the Government information on how to get a licence for burial at sea in England

There are a number of companies who organise burials at sea and you can find details of some of these in Funeral Locations Providers. They help with the necessary paperwork and have suitably adapted vessels that hold the body and on which the service can take place. The burial will, of course, be weather dependent, so may need to be rescheduled at short notice if it is not safe to go out to sea. At such an emotional time, this can be difficult, but it is important to be prepared for this just in case.

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