Statutory guidance

Burial at sea: coffin requirements

Published 11 June 2014

The coffin you use must be made of solid softwood and must not contain any plastic, lead, copper or zinc. It must have:

  • between 40 and 50 50mm (2 inch) holes drilled throughout
  • corners butt-jointed and strengthened with mild steel right angle brackets screwed internally, or substantial wooden bracing struts 50 x 38mm
  • about 200kg of iron, steel or concrete clamped to the base of the coffin with brackets of 10mm mild steel bar, or blocks of weak concrete mix
  • weight distributed evenly to prevent the coffin from turning to the vertical
  • 2 long mild steel bands running from the top to the bottom of the coffin
  • several mild steel bands across the coffin at about 30cm intervals along its length

The coffin and any inner box or liner must be made from natural, non-toxic and biodegradable materials. They must both be able to withstand any impact and be able to carry the body quickly to the seabed.