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 funerals 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 cemetary 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 cemetary or spread the ashes in nature. 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. Many crematoriums and cemeteries provide adjoining gardens where you may spread the ashes of your loved one. 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.
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.
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