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Scattering ashes in Catalonia: rules and regulations

14 December 2023

The number of cremations has increased in recent years as families decide what to do with their loved ones after they die. In Catalonia, according to the data we have been able to gather at Áltima, this method grew by more than 45% in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, and it is expected that the number will continue to increase in the future. Many families also choose to scatter the ashes afterwards, which raises the question of where it is legal to scatter the ashes of our loved one in Catalonia. Today we will answer this question.

Authorised places where ashes can be scattered in Catalonia

There are different options where the ashes of a loved one can be scattered. You can take them to a cemetery where there are spaces specifically designed for the urn to be placed. However, it is also possible to scatter the ashes here.

Spanish legislation prevents ashes from being deposited on public roads and in public parks including national or nature parks. However, it does not prohibit ashes being scattered in the countryside, nor does it say anything about whether or not it is obligatory to place the ashes in an urn. Both can be done in principle, but it is necessary to consult the regulations of each autonomous community and even the municipal ordinances of each locality to find out how it is regulated in each place.

The act of scattering ashes in Catalonia must be done in a controlled manner and in spaces where it is allowed. Failure to follow regulations is seen as an environmental offence carrying a heavy fine. This is the case if the ashes are scattered in a non-biodegradable urn or without a specific permit.

Naturally, cemeteries are the main authorised sites. They usually offer a variety of options for depositing or scattering ashes and they offer more and more environmentally friendly alternatives.

In addition, experts recommend choosing a different space which acts as a focal point in which to remember our loved ones as this also facilitates the mourning process.

Can ashes be scattered outside the cemeteries in Catalonia? Although not prohibited, it is necessary to have the appropriate authorisation. For example, there are families who want to scatter the ashes of their loved ones at sea, but in order to do so, it is necessary to have a permit from the Directorate General of the Merchant Navy (DGMM) through the Ministry of Public Works or the corresponding autonomous community.

To be sure that the way you wish to scatter your loved one’s ashes is legal, it is best to contact authorised services who can help in this process.

Authorised places where ashes can be scattered in Barcelona

Cemeteries are the best places to scatter the ashes of your loved ones, as they have the appropriate facilities for this purpose. At Áltima we have several cemeteries authorised to scatter ashes in Barcelona and, in some of them, it can even be done in an environmentally friendly way, using respectful methods in natural surroundings.

In addition to providing these innovative spaces that are integrated into the natural environment, at Áltima we also offer other alternatives that are in great demand by families. For example, we organise personalised and intimate ceremonies, for which we have authorisation in four ports in Catalonia where we spread ashes

  • Barcelona (Port Fòrum).

  • Tarragona (Port Torredembarra).

  • Girona (Port Roses).

  • Sant Andreu de Llavaneres (Port Balis), in Maresme.

Regulations and procedures required for scattering ashes in Catalonia

Where can the ashes be scattered in Catalonia? It is complicated for families, particularly at the difficult time of a loved one’s death, to find out about the legal details concerning scattering their ashes. For this reason, it is best to go to an authorised company to take care of the formalities.

Usually, the steps to follow in order to carry out the scattering of a loved one’s ashes are:

  1. Choose a biodegradable urn so as not to commit an environmental offence.

  2. Select the place where you want to scatter the ashes in Catalonia.

  3. Get permission to scatter the ashes. Depending on the place, you will need to ask for authorisation from the town council or the competent public administration.

  4. Organise the ceremony for scattering the ashes.

In order to know what the municipal ordinance or the regulations of the corresponding autonomous community are, it is always better to have an authorised company that already knows where to go in each case and complies with the legal requirements.

Environmental impact of scattering ashes in Catalonia

Just like in any other region, scattering ashes in Catalonia can have an environmental impact if it is not done in a controlled manner and governed by current regulations.

When a cremation is not carried out according to the regulations - in addition to being a criminal offence which can lead to fines - damage to the environment can occur, such as:

  • Alteration of soil pH affecting local flora and fauna.

  • Concentration of heavy metals (from dental fillings, for example).

  • Impact on aquatic fauna and flora if ashes are scattered in the sea.

Therefore, when scattering ashes in Catalonia, there are limitations in certain areas in order to minimise the environmental impact and preserve the ecosystem. The use of biodegradable urns is another measure aimed at reducing these negative effects.

And, for all these reasons, city councils such as Barcelona have extended the green spaces in cemeteries to scatter ashes in a sustainable way, given that cremations already represent a majority percentage when choosing the destiny of a deceased loved one.