Guidance

How to get a licence for a burial at sea in the UK marine area

Get permission to be buried at sea in the UK marine area

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 Northern Ireland offshore area

Some burials at sea may be suitable for self-service marine licensing.

In order to qualify for self-service the intended place of burial must be one of the following locations:

  • off The Needles, Isle of Wight
  • between Hastings and Newhaven
  • off Tynemouth, North Tyneside

and you must have:

  • a 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)

Burials must take place within 3 months of the date the licence is granted.

To check to see if you qualify or to apply for a self-service licence use the MMO’s interactive assistance tool

If you wish to apply for burial at sea at a location in England or the Northern Irish offshore area that is different to those set out you can still apply for a licence but you should be aware you might also have to provide evidence your proposed burial location is suitable. Things like water depth, currents, pipelines and fishing will be considered.

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

Fees

In England and the Northern Ireland offshore area a licence costs £50

Burials elsewhere in the UK

For burials in inshore and offshore 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 certificationofdeath@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0131 244 2711
Find out about call charges

Published 15 November 2017
Last updated 4 April 2019 + show all updates
  1. Information updated to include changes to contacts depending where burials take place in the UK

  2. First published.