What are the Laws on Scattering Ashes in Florida?

Scattering your loved one’s ashes is a memorable, heartfelt way to say goodbye. It’s also regulated in some areas, so before you plan an informal ash scattering ceremony in Florida or Orlando, make sure you’re doing it by the book.

Ashes are sterile, so they can be safely scattered anywhere without risk to other people or wildlife. Knowing this, the state of Florida makes it easy for families to memorialize their loved ones in this way. There are no state-level laws prohibiting the transport or scattering of cremated remains on public property, so if you decide to scatter them along a roadside or even on a city sidewalk, there’s no law saying you can’t.

However, special rules do apply in certain areas of Florida, especially if you plan on scattering ashes at one of Orlando’s big theme parks (Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios). We’ll detail all the potential scattering scenarios below.

Scattering Ashes on Private Property? Get Permission First

If your plan is to scatter the remains on private land, there is only one rule. Before you can scatter the remains, you need permission first. Once you have that permission, you can release the remains from a container of your choice. Simple and straightforward.

Scattering Ashes at Sea? There are a Few Rules to Follow

Scattering ashes over open water remains a popular option for families, but there are regulations to follow. These are defined in the Federal Clean Water Act, which applies to Florida and Orlando coastlines as well. Those guidelines include:

  • Notifying the Environmental Protection Agency ahead of time – The EPA requires notification of scattering at least 30 days in advance. To do this, you can either call the agency or use their online form to provide the necessary information. Most opt for the online form, as it’s quick and simple.

  • Releasing the ashes far offshore – One of the Federal Clean Water Act’s requirements states that people must be at least three miles offshore when they scatter ashes. This is to prevent those ashes from washing up on the beach and from affecting coastline water quality.

    There are multiple boating services in Orlando dedicated to making this possible. They can transport a family out to sea and ensure the remains are released far enough from shore.

  • Disposing the container separately – If you’re scattering the ashes at sea, you must dispose of the urn separately and not drop it into the water. Alternatively, you could opt for a biodegradable urn, but biodegradable options are tougher to find and more expensive.

Scattering Ashes at a State Park? Talk to a Park Ranger

If the deceased was a lover of the outdoors, then you may decide to scatter the ashes at a state park near Orlando. Lake Kissimmee, Lake Louisa and Wekiwa Springs are all popular destinations for ash scattering, for example.

If you’re planning to release ashes at a Florida state park, you’ll first need to notify one of the park’s rangers. You may be required to speak to the head ranger first. In almost all cases, the ranger will permit the family to scatter the ashes.

Most parks just require people to release the ashes away from high-traffic paths and to scatter them in a way so that they don’t mound up or gather in a single spot. Also, you’re not allowed to leave a marker in the area. Taking a photo will help you remember the spot in case other family members want to visit.

Scattering Ashes at Walt Disney World Resort or Universal Studios? There Could Be Consequences

Orlando’s major theme parks – Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios – are places where families make a lot of memories. Unsurprisingly, they’re also places where people go to scatter ashes.

If you’re considering this, you’ll also need to consider the potential consequences of doing so. That’s because Orlando’s major parks prohibit visitors from scattering ashes anywhere on park grounds.

Walt Disney World Resort has received significant attention for this, as it’s gone on the record stating that it will escort visitors from the park if they are caught scattering ashes. In fact, the theme park even has a protocol in place specifically for when a park employee encounters cremated remains. The protocol includes bringing out HEPA vacuums to remove the remains and shutting down an attraction if the remains are dropped during a ride.

Of course, many park visitors attempt to scatter ashes even knowing that there could be repercussions for doing so. Those visitors also have to avoid the thousands of surveillance cameras dotting the park.

Are There Places in Orlando Dedicated for Cremation Remains?

The Orlando-area is a common spot for releasing ashes, so a number of memorial gardens have sprung up for this purpose. Also called scattering gardens, you’ll normally find them attached to or affiliated with a church. Some cremation service providers are also partnered with scattering gardens and can help families locate one following the cremation process.

Relaxed State Laws and Laws in Orlando Make it Easy to Scatter a Loved One's Ashes

The state of Florida and city of Orlando both make it simple for families who want one final memory with their loved one. There are no laws on the books governing the process at the state level, and the only federal regulations are easy to follow – there are even services that can facilitate scattering.

Wherever you choose to memorialize your loved one, you’ll find that it’s easy to do throughout Florida and the Orlando area as long as you follow the location’s guidelines.


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