Regulations and Requirements Before Scattering Ashes

After having their loved ones cremated, most people choose to do one of three things: bury the urn with the remains, keep the remains stored at home, or scatter the remains at a memorable location. Scattering ashes is a great way to have a final form of release with your loved one. Did they enjoy hiking at particular location? Were they avid ocean lovers? These factors can determine where a great spot to scatter their ashes may be. However, before you scatter your loved one’s remains, you need to make sure you’re in compliance with the law.

Scattering in the wild or at sea
Two common spots people choose to scatter the ashes of their loved ones are at sea or in a wilderness location, such as on a mountain or in the woods. If you want to scatter ashes in a location like these, check to see if it is unpatrolled public territory. If this is the case, you won’t need to obtain a permit or permission for scattering the ashes on these lands. It’s recommended that you get at least 100 yards off trail before scattering ashes, as human ashes can still have bits of bone and teeth in them.

The sea and patrolled public territory do have regulations as to scattering human remains. For scattering ashes in the sea, you have to be at least three miles off shore and you need to obtain an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit 30 days prior to the event. To scatter ashes in patrolled public land, such as a national or state park, you need to obtain permission from the respective governing authority. Different parks have different requirements that you need to respect if you wish to scatter your loved one’s remains there.

Sending your loved one off from a plane
The FAA doesn’t have any regulations against scattering ashes from a plane. If this is what you would like to do, make sure that the location you are flying over doesn’t require permission for ashes to hit the land. Be prepared for the high winds in an aircraft before opening the container. You may need to use a smaller container, that can be held far out of the cockpit before opening. You wouldn’t want the ashes to fly back into the plane and create an uncomfortable mess.

Scattering in more than one location
If you want to take your loved one to multiple spots, bring a small amount with you on various trips. You can scatter small portions of the remains at different locations for different memories, or perhaps you had planned on traveling to some of these places together before your loved one passed. If you travel internationally with the intention of spreading ashes, check with local permissions at your destination.

Heartland Cremation can help provide you with the guidance and planning you need for arranging the cremation of your loved one. Family-owned and operated, Heartland Cremation serves the Kansas City area, including the communities of Overland Park, Leawood, Prairie Village, Lenexa, and Olathe. Please contact us to discuss your cremation needs today.

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