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Can you be fined for scattering ashes in Spain?

23 November 2023

Sometimes it is impossible to carry out the wishes of our loved ones after their death due to a simple question of legality. You can actually receive a fine for scattering ashes in Spain if the process is not carried out in accordance with current regulations. Today at Áltima we will explain how it should be done, what practices are prohibited and what sanctions you are liable to if you scatter the ashes of your loved one in an improper way.

Penalties and fines for scattering ashes in Spain

Cremation is an increasingly common option when a loved one dies, and one that involves making a decision about how to dispose of the ashes. Sometimes it is the family who takes care of this, but the deceased can also determine what they want in this situation, so it is necessary to comply with their last wishes.

But it is not always easy to scatter their ashes where they specified because there are certain legal implications that must be taken into account.

In Spain, environmental protection laws place very strict limits on certain practices related to scattering the ashes of a loved one. In some cases, it can be a serious environmental offence for unauthorised dumping of waste, resulting in a fine for spreading ashes of up to €750.

Therefore, it is important to find out whether the scattering of ashes is legal in each municipality as the regulations may vary. And it is also necessary to find out how to do it, that is, under what conditions it can be done in each case.

How to scatter the ashes in a legal way

You can scatter the ashes of a loved one, but only if you comply with the established legal requirements. What should we take into account in order not to receive a fine for scattering ashes?

  • Law requires that the ashes are deposited in an approved biodegradable container. So it does not apply to just any urn, nor is it possible to scatter the ashes by themselves.

  • Although there is no state-wide regulation, many municipalities have local regulations that may prohibit the disposal of your loved one's ashes in natural areas (countryside, woods, mountains, etc).

  • You can divide your loved one's ashes so they can be scattered in several different places or even use part of the ashes for a different purpose (e.g. to make jewellery).

  • The ashes can be scattered with the assistance of a funeral company that will take care of all the formalities and apply for any necessary permits. If this is the case, if we wanted to scatter the ashes at sea, we would have to request authorisation from the Directorate General of the Merchant Navy through the Ministry of Public Works or the corresponding body of the autonomous community.

Whatever the choice, the appropriate permits must always be obtained without fail.

Where can the ashes of the deceased be scattered in Spain? Prohibited and non-prohibited scattering places

To avoid a fine for scattering ashes in Spain in inappropriate places, it is important to know the general regulations, but also the potential limitations of the municipality in question.

Where is it permitted to scatter the ashes of a loved one?

  • In natural areas, unless local regulations specify otherwise.

  • At sea, following the appropriate procedures and obtaining the necessary permits. Never without an urn.

However, there are certain places where it is forbidden to spread the ashes of a loved one. It cannot be done on public roads and public parks.

Therefore, it is important to respect local regulations and avoid scattering them in public places where it is prohibited. Generally speaking, in Spain you can scatter the ashes of a loved one in natural areas and at sea, provided you have the appropriate permits, and you can also do so in private places.

In any event, there is always the option of placing your loved one's ashes in columbariums, which are niches specially designed for this purpose in cemeteries and even funeral homes. There are also other ecological options which are just as suitable and which comply with current regulations.

Spanish regulations on the scattering of ashes

In Spain, legislation on the scattering of a loved one's ashes regulates how they should be handled properly to avoid environmental offences. Understanding the rules is essential to ensure that the process is conducted in an appropriate and respectful manner.

Spanish law establishes that ashes can be scattered in public places, provided they do not pose a danger to public health or violate local environmental regulations. Scattering ashes in private places is also permitted, provided that permission from the land owner is granted.

In addition, the ashes of your loved one must be carried in a certified biodegradable urn, in order to avoid contaminating the natural environment and to ensure that the process is environmentally friendly.

It is important to mention that regulations vary from one autonomous community to another and even from one municipality to another. Therefore, it is crucial to consult the specific regulations in the place where you want to scatter the ashes to avoid any fines.

Regulations must be followed and permits obtained where necessary to ensure that the process is carried out properly and respectfully, both for the wishes of the deceased and for the natural environment. In the latter case, of course, it will also mean avoiding a possible fine for scattering ashes in Spain illegally.