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Region 1: EPA New England

Burial at Sea

Photo of the sea.

As you make your preparations to bury a loved one at sea, you need to understand the Federal laws that regulate this activity. EPA granted a general permit to allow for burials at sea. The permit is published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 40, Chapter 1, Section 229.1 (PDF) (1pg 52 K, about PDF). The information below will guide you in how to conduct a legal burial at sea.

The burial at sea regulations are based on the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. According to the regulations human remains transported from U.S. ports or on U.S. vessels or aircraft may be buried at sea under specific conditions. These include cremated as well as non-cremated remains. Burial in or on inland waters is regulated according to the Clean Water Act. For inland waters burial, a permit is required from the appropriate state agency.

Please note the requirement that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be notified within 30 days after burial.

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