Whether you live in Europe, or are planning a trip around the world to scatter the ashes of your loved one, you should keep in mind that spreading ashes is legally considered to be the disposal of human remains. This means that most countries will have special laws stipulating how cremated remains can be handled, so read on to learn more about scattering ashes in Europe.
You may not be surprised to learn that Germany has some of the strictest laws in Europe related to funeral arrangements and cremation. In Germany, laws stipulate that even cremated remains must be buried in a cemetery. That means it is illegal to keep the ashes of your loved on in your home or scatter their ashes. Because of the high funeral costs and strict regulations, many Germans illegally take ashes to Switzerland for ash spreading ceremonies.
As of 2015 in Bremen, you can now spread or bury the ashes of your loved one in your own backyard, but must first apply for a special permit and have the written permission of the deceased.
Although the Catholic Church accepts cremation, it is not permissible to scatter ashes, so you probably don’t want to be caught spreading the ashes of your loved one in Vatican City.
Because of the beautiful scenery, the Alps, Lake Zurich, and other bodies of water, have become favorite locations for scattering ashes, but local Swiss residents haven’t necessarily been happy about this.
After 67 cremation urns were found at the bottom of Lake Zurich in 2010, commercial and professional disposal of human remains outside of a cemetery was banned. It turns out that a local clinic had been dumping up to hundreds of urns into Lake Zurich, hardly a sustainable practice!
The Swiss tend to prefer cremation to burial, so the good news is that individuals can still scatter the ashes of their loved ones, so long as it isn’t done for commercial reasons.
The Czech Republic
Scattering ashes has become more popular in recent years in Czechia, where you can hold what is called a “farewell ceremony” in a cemetery or spread the ashes in the countryside. You cannot, however, scatter ashes into a body of water, as the ashes are considered to contaminate the water.
In France, the laws on scattering ashes are not as lax as in Switzerland, but you still have some options for nontraditional funeral arrangements or cremation. Many crematoriums and cemeteries provide adjoining gardens where you may spread the ashes of your loved one, or place a urn for human ashes. Ashes can also be scattered into bodies of water or anywhere in nature except for public parks and roads.
Although spreading ashes is permitted, keeping the ashes of your loved one in your home is strictly forbidden and punishable with a steep fine.
The UK law on scattering human ashes is fairly relaxed. You can choose to scatter the ashes over land or water, but you only need the landowner's permission to do that. We suggest that you consult the local environment agency in case you like to scatter the remains of loved one over river or the sea. Keeping the remains in urn at home or garden is also allowed.
There are numerous wonderful sites in The Netherlands like the Wadden Sea shoreline, where you can scatter the ashes of a loved one. The laws in Holland are favourable when it comes to scattering or keeping human ashes. However, be noted that every municipality has different rules.
There are some specific prohibitions forbidding the scattering of ashes on busy roads, shopping street, bike paths or from viaducts. You can surely keep your ashes at home, columbarium or garden in The Netherlands.
In Denmark, the laws are quite strict, regarding keeping the ashes at home. The Danish laws allow the families to bury the ashes in the church’s yard or to scatter them, but not to keep them at home. If you prefer to scatter the ashes, you should take into account where it is allowed and where not. For example, you can spread the ashes in the ocean, yet not in lakes or rivers. Ask the nearest funeral agency, they should be aware of the funeral arrangement and cremation laws.
When a loved one passes away, some of us are prone to the idea that the most respectful way of honouring the memory of the person is to disperse the ashes in the nature or at a place that meant much for him. If you have some particular idea, you need to contact the local municipality, because in some cases you would need the landowner’s permission. However, without any prohibition you have the right to keep the ashes in a ceramic art urn at home, to bury them in your yard, to scatter them in the sea or in the cemetery.
A recent trend shows that more and more people in Sweden are prone to scattering ashes in the countryside. You should know that the Swedish law stipulates that the deceased must be buried or cremated within one month of their death. Whether you would like to bury the urn or to scatter the ashes in designated areas or in the sea, you should first be granted an official form of permission from the local authorities.
Although the Catholic Church has been clearly condemning the idea of dispersing human remains into the wild and open areas, the Spanish lawmakers has elaborated some loopholes for the families that want to scatter the cremains. For example, scattering in the ocean, at designated places in a cemetery and in the nature is allowed.
Violating the law can cost up to 700 € or more in some areas.
In Hungary, the proportion of people who choose the preservation of ashes at home in a cremation urn is considerably higher than those who prefer scattering. However, the demand for scattering ashes in Hungary has increased recently. When deciding where to spread the ashes of our loved ones, we can select between sites like churches and temples, or by obtaining the indispensable documents, we can scatter the ashes in different places in the countryside.
Norway's legal position on keeping cremains at home is a bit strict. The law stipulates that the preservation of human remains at Norwegian home is illegal. However, ashes can be scattered at open sea, into the wind or at a specially designated places, where the municipality will be willing to give you permission after filling some documents.
When it comes to scattering ashes Finland's law is fairy relaxed. You can choose between sprinkling the ashes into the wind, pouring them onto the sea, keeping them at home and even bury them in the countryside. If you choose to scatter the ashes into an open area, you just need to obtain the landowner's permission and you can proceed with the rite for honouring the beloved that passed away.
Lots of Options
Whether you want to scatter your loved one’s remains in nature, house them in a ceramic art urn, or both, if your loved one has been cremated, you have plenty of options, so feel free to get creative.