2020 State Guide to Scattering Ashes - New York Edition

This state guide to scattering ashes provides insights into scattering in the beautiful state of New York. This is the fifth edition of state-by-state rules and regulations related to scattering ashes of a loved one. 

When most people think of New York they think of New York City, a dynamic city of millions of people. However, this is only part of this amazing state. New York, home to nearly twenty million people, also has many beautiful forests, rivers, lakes, and mountains. Its picturesque Adirondack Park is the largest National Park in the contiguous U.S. In addition, New York is also home to Niagara Falls, one of the world’s most famous natural wonders!

Scattering Ashes: Regulations in New York

scattering ashes new york

We receive daily questions from people interested in learning about any rules and regulations for scattering ashes of a loved one or pet in their yard, on other private property, in parks, and in lakes or rivers, among many other places. In this guide, we highlight important information related to storing and scattering ashes in the state of New York. In addition, we also provide information that will help give you the resources necessary to memorialize your loved one in New York in a legal and dignified way.

Similar to many other states, New York has no state-wide laws related to storing or scattering ashes. Even without any state laws, it is always recommended to check with your local city or county offices to find out if there are any local rules in place. National and State parks each have their own set of guidelines to follow - if you plan on scattering at one of these parks it is important to first check on any requirements that need to be met before you scatter there (many will require you to submit a form prior to scattering). With a quick internet search you can get the phone number at the park - simply give them a call, they’re there to help!

The cremated ashes may be stored in an urn or other container at home, or in a crypt, niche, or grave. There are no health risks to storing or scattering ashes as the cremation process renders the ashes harmless.

Places to Scatter Ashes in New York

After a loved one or pet passes, many families choose to scatter their ashes at a place special to them or another location of the family’s choosing. The process of scattering ashes can bring comfort to families and friends at a time of strong emotion and loss. Many choose to hold a memorial service prior to, during, or after the scattering which can be a great way to honor a loved one and create a memorable experience for all who attend.

There are many beautiful places to scatter ashes of a loved one in New York. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most common ones:

  • Scattering Gardens – with the increase in the number of people choosing cremation, many churches, memorial parks, and cemeteries in New York provide special designated areas where people are able to scatter the ashes of a loved one. These are typically referred to as scattering gardens and can easily be found by speaking with staff at your local church or funeral director.
  • Private Property – like many other states, in New York you’re allowed to scatter ashes of a loved one on your own private property or the privately owned property of another person or organization (as long as you have their permission).
  • Public Land – with its abundance of trees and parks, ocean, and rivers, New York has some of the most beautiful natural places in the country!. If you would like to scatter on public land, it is always a good idea to check with your local city or county offices first to see if any local regulations exist or if any permits are needed.
  • Federal Land – prior to scattering a loved one’s ashes on federal land it is advised to request permission first. Also, be considerate to others and avoid scattering ashes on trails or other areas where many people congregate. Many National Parks allow scattering, however, a permit is typically required first. If you plan on scattering at a National Park, a quick call to the park ranger’s office or an internet search can provide you with the necessary permit and regulation information.
  • Water Scattering – water burials have been a long standing tradition of many families living on the East Coast. The United States Federal Clean Water Act allows people to scatter ashes at sea as long as it’s done 3 nautical miles from shore. In addition, you must notify the U.S. EPA within 30 days of scattering ashes at sea. Most harbors in New York (including many in Long Island) have boating services that will take you out to sea to do the scattering.
  • By Air - similar to other states, we are not aware of any New York state laws related to scattering cremated ashes from an airplane, helicopter, hot air balloon, or drone. However, make sure you do not drop the container or scattering urn that’s holding the ashes as they’re being scattered - federal law prohibits letting go of any objects from the air that can potentially cause harm to people or property.

What Can You Use to Scatter Ashes?

With the significant increase in the amount of people in New York and other states choosing to be cremated, along with an increased interest in scattering, a number of new urns designed to scatter have recently been developed. Below we’ve highlighted some of the more popular ones.

Eco Water Urn

Southeast New York borders the Atlantic Ocean, while the Western side of the state is home to beautiful Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. With the large amount of water surrounding the state and its amazing coastline, water burials are a popular option among New Yorkers.

The new patent pending Eco Water Urn provides families with a dignified and memorable water burial experience and has quickly become the leading choice of funeral homes nationwide. This biodegradable urn floats upright like a buoy for up to a few minutes before the bottom of the urn dissolves and frees the ashes into the water. The Eco Water Urn comes packaged in an eco-friendly cylinder bamboo case, which is a great piece to include in ceremonies and also helps to securely transport the water urn holding your loved one’s ashes to that special location to scatter.

Eco Scattering Urns

The Eco Scattering Urn is an all-natural biodegradable urn made from bamboo, a fast-growing and sustainable resource. With its unique long cylindrical shape, it helps people scatter away from their body with ease. The Eco Scattering Urn comes in four sizes – making it easy for families to get one that fits with their loved one’s remains and gives them the option use a single large urn or divide up the ashes into multiple smaller scattering urns. The Eco Scattering Urn has a proprietary open and close mechanism on top of the urn, giving you the ability to secure the remains during transport and provides the option to scatter at one location with some of the ashes then re-secure the remaining ashes in the urn to take to other locations to scatter or to take home to keep with you.

Many families will order the Eco Scattering Urn and use it to scatter at a special place right away, while others will order it who are planning to scatter in the future. They receive the Eco Scattering Urn right away and use it to store the ashes for years until they are ready to scatter.

Scattering Urns Made from Paper

There are a number of scattering urns on the market that are made from paper (or cardboard) with designs printed on the side. These are a lower cost option to the Eco Scattering Urn, however have some drawbacks. This includes the risk of having them break down in wet weather conditions and that they are meant for one time use - you cannot scatter some of the ashes then easily re-secure the remaining ashes to take to another location. In addition, many of the paper scattering urns require an additional step of gluing them together once they’re loaded with the ashes. If you prefer a paper urn but you’re concerned about not gluing it properly, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of your funeral director.

Multiple Memorials

Many families choose to only scatter a portion of a loved one or pet’s ashes at a special place. They then either scatter the remaining ashes at another location, keep the remaining ashes in an urn inside the home, or do another memorial with the ashes. In the past few years, many new memorials have been introduced for people who choose cremation. This includes doing a tree burial with The Living Urn, or including some of the ashes in jewelry or a decorative glass piece.

More About Cremation and Ashes

If you're interested in learning more about cremation and the cost breakdown of what products or services can be included, click here.