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Are There Laws About Scattering Ashes in California? July 11, 2019

West Berkeley, Berkeley
Are There Laws About Scattering Ashes in California?, Berkeley, California

After a loved one passes and cremation has taken place, you may be considering an ash scattering ceremony as a memorial. There are a few laws and regulations to follow to ensure you are correctly handling the remains, whether you hire a charter boat for a sea burial or decide on another approach. Below are a few laws to remember.

What to Know About Legally Scattering Ashes in California

1. Land Scattering Laws

In California, you may scatter ashes in a cemetery per the location’s regulations or in any area where permission has been granted by the property owner or government agency for public grounds. Ashes must be taken out of their container and scattered into the ground so they are not visible.

2. Water Scattering Laws

charter boatIf you choose to get a charter boat and scatter at sea, the ceremony must occur at least 500 yards from the shoreline. This rule includes navigable waters set inland, except for lakes and streams, which are not permitted.

3. Federal Public & Private Laws

Typically, if the scattering occurs away from roads, waterways, and facilities, you will not have much trouble attaining a permit for your ceremony. National parks and public areas are controlled by governing bodies that can help with correct permits. For private land you don’t own yourself, you must get written permission from the owner before scattering.

4. Federal Laws for the Sea

According to the Clean Water Act and the EPA, remains must be at least three nautical miles from the shore and in water that is at least 600 feet deep. You cannot toss containers into the water from your charter boat unless it is biodegradable, and scattering on beaches is prohibited. The EPA must be notified 30 days ahead of the ceremony of your plans.


If you are interested in scattering ashes by sea, Compass Rose Yacht Charters is the charter boat service to call. Located in Berkeley, CA, and serving the San Francisco Bay Area, downtown Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento County, this boat charter company has offered residents, businesses, party planners, and wedding coordinators the perfect yacht for their event since 1992. To book your boat, call (510) 523-9500. Visit them online for more on their fleet.

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