How to get a licence for a burial at sea in England

Get permission to be buried at sea in England

Before the burial

You must apply for a licence for a burial at sea.

You don’t need a licence or permission to scatter ashes at sea after a cremation.

You must make sure the coffin is built correctly.

You must also make sure that the body of the deceased:

  • isn’t embalmed

  • is lightly dressed in biodegradable material

  • has a durable identification tag with the details of the funeral director

The body and coffin may be inspected before the burial.

How to apply

How to apply for a licence depends on where the burial will be.

Burials in England and offshore areas of Wales and Northern Ireland

You can apply online for a licence.

All applications are published on the public register of marine licence applications and decisions.

What you’ll need

When you apply you must have:

  • the death certificate

  • a Certificate of Freedom from Fever and Infection (available from the deceased person’s GP or hospital doctor)

  • a Notice to a Coroner of Intention to Remove a Body out of England (available from the coroner in exchange for a Certificate of Disposal provided by the registrar)

You might also have to provide evidence your proposed burial location is suitable. Things like water depth, currents, pipelines and fishing will be considered.


A licence costs £50 if you want the burial to be:

  • off The Needles, Isle of Wight

  • between Hastings and Newhaven

  • off Tynemouth, North Tyneside

If you want the burial to be somewhere else in England or in the offshore areas of Wales or Northern Ireland, the licence will cost £175.

If the burial will be more than 3 months after you apply for a licence, the licence will cost £175.

Burials elsewhere in the UK

For burials in inshore areas of Wales you will need a licence from Natural Resources Wales.

For burials in inshore areas of Northern Ireland you’ll need a licence from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

For burials at sea in Scotland contact the Burial, Cremation and Death Certification team.

Burial, Cremation and Death Certification Team
Telephone: 0131 244 2711
Find out about call charges

Published 15 November 2017