Burial at Sea - Everything You Need to Know

Burial at Sea - Everything You Need to Know

We normally associate burial at sea with sailors of navy servers. However, in fact, burial at sea is open to anyone. According to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), around twelve people, each year choose to have their bodies released into the ocean.

Where can a burial at sea take place?

In English coastal waters there are three designated water burial sites. These are, Newhaven in East Sussex, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, and The Needles Spoil Ground, close to the Isle of Wight. If you wish to perform a burial at sea in another location you must apply to propose a new site.

What are the requirements to perform a burial at sea?

Applicants must provide a death certificate and a doctors certificate that the body is free from infection and fever. The body must not be embalmed and clothing should be lightweight and biodegradable.  The coffin must not contain any zinc, copper, lead or plastic. It should be made of a solid softwood or other biodegradable material. Attaching 200kg of weight and drilling holes in the bottom ensures that it sinks rapidly. Find full coffin requirement details here.

How much does it cost?

The licence costs £175. Find out how to apply here. The cost of the vessel and the ceremony will depend on the location and the way you want to perform the ceremony. The Britannia Shipping Company specialise in burials at sea and will provide you with full details.

The cost of a sea burial can be quite expensive. As a result, a popular alternative is to cremate the body and take the ashes out to sea for burial or dispersal.

Where can you scatter ashes in the sea?

The scattering of ashes into the sea can take place anywhere, and anyone can do it. You do not need a licence or the presence of an undertaker. All you need is to rent a suitable vessel to carry you out to a convenient spot. Scattering tubes make the dispersal of ashes easier. These have an easy to open lid, and the rounded shape makes them easy to grip during the distribution. Always remember to take into account the wind direction when scattering.

How to have a water burial with ashes

There are many different types of water-soluble urns which are ideal for the water burial of cremated remains. They come in both full-size and miniature so that several people can join in the water burial experience.