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Sea Burial in Singapore - All You Need To Know (Updated 2024)

sea burial in singapore all you need to know guide

Sea burials in Singapore are gaining popularity as a meaningful and eco-friendly way to honour loved ones. As traditional burial spaces and columbarium niches become increasingly scarce and costly, many families are turning to the ocean for a serene and symbolic resting place. The idea of a loved one’s remains becoming part of the natural cycle of the sea resonates deeply with those seeking a peaceful and environmentally conscious alternative.

This growing trend is supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA), which has established clear guidelines to ensure that sea burials are conducted safely and respectfully. These regulations help families navigate the process while ensuring that environmental and public safety standards are upheld.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of sea burials in Singapore, covering everything from the legal requirements and planning details to the environmental benefits. Let's begin by diving into the legal and regulatory framework that governs sea burials.

Table of Contents:

Side Note:

Celebrate the life of your loved one at the funeral with a Funeral Live Band.


Legal and Regulatory Framework

When it comes to sea burials in Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has laid out specific regulations to ensure the process is respectful and safe for both people and the environment. Here’s what you need to know:

NEA Regulations

The NEA permits the scattering of ashes at sea, but there are essential conditions to follow:

  • Release of Ashes: The ashes must be released in a manner that minimises the risk of them floating back to shore. This precaution helps prevent any disruption to maritime activities and ensures the remains are appropriately integrated into the ocean.

  • Designated Locations: Sea burials are only allowed at one designated site, 2.8 km south of Pulau Semakau.

  • Chartered Vessel Regulations: The chartered boats used for sea burials must comply with guidelines set by the Maritime & Port Authority regarding carrying capacity and safety. This includes ensuring the vessel can safely accommodate all attendees and that all necessary safety measures are in place.

Compliance and Enforcement

Families planning a sea burial must work with licensed funeral service providers. These providers handle the necessary paperwork, obtain permits, and ensure that all NEA regulations are strictly followed. This collaboration ensures that the ceremony is conducted legally and respectfully. The NEA also conducts spot checks to enforce compliance; any violations can result in penalties.

Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for families considering a sea burial. It ensures the process is respectful, environmentally friendly, and safe for everyone involved.


Planning and Conducting a Sea Burial

Planning a sea burial involves several vital steps to ensure the ceremony is respectful, meaningful, and compliant with all regulations. Here’s a detailed look at how to plan and conduct a sea burial in Singapore.

Choosing an Agency

Selecting a reputable and experienced funeral service provider is crucial. Check out our article on the Top 20 Funeral Service Providers in Singapore. These agencies handle the logistics and ensure that all legal requirements are met. Here’s what they typically offer:

  • Permits and Paperwork: They obtain the necessary licenses from NEA and other relevant authorities, ensuring that all legalities are addressed.

  • Boat Rentals: Agencies arrange for the appropriate vessel, considering the number of attendees and safety requirements. This can include renting a bumboat or yacht, depending on the family’s preferences.

  • Biodegradable Urns: They provide eco-friendly urns made from materials like paper, sand, or salt, which dissolve naturally in the water, minimizing environmental impact.

Ceremonial Practices

The sea burial ceremony can be personalised to reflect the deceased’s life and the family’s traditions. Here are some common elements:

  • Farewell Speeches and Music: Families often include farewell speeches, poems, or the deceased’s favourite music to make the ceremony more personal and heartfelt.

  • Religious Rites: Specific rites can be incorporated depending on the family’s religious beliefs. For instance, Christian ceremonies might include prayers and scripture readings, while Buddhist and Taoist ceremonies could involve chants and offerings conducted by monks or priests.

  • Symbolic Gestures: Many families choose to release flower petals, balloons, or doves as part of the ceremony, adding a symbolic touch to the farewell.

Planning Details

  • Scheduling: Plan the ceremony for a time when weather conditions are likely to be calm, ensuring a smooth and comfortable experience for all attendees.

  • Coordination with the Agency: Work closely with the funeral service provider to coordinate all aspects of the ceremony, from transportation to the scattering of ashes.

By carefully planning each step and considering all the details, families can ensure that a sea burial is a respectful and meaningful tribute to their loved one.


Environmental Considerations

One of the significant advantages of sea burials is their minimal environmental impact compared to traditional burial methods. Here are some key environmental considerations and benefits associated with sea burials:

Biodegradable Urns

  • Eco-Friendly Materials: Biodegradable urns are typically made from paper, sand, or salt materials. These materials are designed to break down naturally in the ocean, ensuring no lasting waste is left behind.

  • Minimising Pollution: Families can avoid contributing to marine pollution by using biodegradable urns. This is an important factor in preserving the health of marine ecosystems.

Reduction in Land Use

  • Conservation of Land Resources: Traditional burials require significant land space, which is increasingly scarce in densely populated cities like Singapore. Niches in columbariums are also getting more expensive due to space constraints. Sea burials help conserve land resources, making more efficient use of available space.

  • Lower Carbon Footprint: Sea burials considerably reduce the carbon footprint associated with maintaining niches and burial sites, including the use of concrete, landscaping, and upkeep.

Promotion of Marine Life

  • Beneficial to Marine Ecosystems: The scattering of ashes at sea can have a neutral or even beneficial impact on marine ecosystems. The nutrients in the ashes can contribute to the growth of marine life, thus playing a small role in supporting the ocean's ecological balance.

  • Regulated Sites: The NEA has carefully selected designated sites for sea burials to ensure they are conducted in areas where the environmental impact is minimal. This ensures that sea burials do not disrupt sensitive marine habitats.

Guidelines for Environmental Safety

  • Avoiding Non-Biodegradable Items: It is crucial to avoid using non-biodegradable items such as plastic flowers or mementoes during the ceremony. Families are encouraged to use natural elements like fresh flowers or leaves, which decompose naturally and do not harm marine life.

  • Compliance with Regulations: Ensuring that all NEA guidelines are followed helps protect the marine environment. This includes using approved sites and methods for scattering ashes to prevent any negative impact on the ocean.

By considering these environmental factors, families can choose a sea burial as a sustainable and respectful way to honour their loved ones. This method not only pays tribute to the deceased but also contributes positively to the environment.



Sea burials in Singapore are a cost-effective and meaningful way to honour a loved one. Here’s a detailed look at the typical costs involved:

General Cost Range

  • Affordability: The cost of a sea burial in Singapore generally starts from S$380. This price typically includes services such as boat rental, necessary permits, and a biodegradable urn. However, depending on your package, the price can go up to S$2,000. In comparison, storing ashes in a columbarium will usually cost you at least S$1,380.

  • Service Packages: Many funeral service providers offer all-inclusive packages that cover all aspects of the sea burial, making the process straightforward for families. These packages often include transportation, urns, and ceremonial elements like flowers or music.

Additional Costs

  • Choice of Chartered Vessel: The type of boat used for the sea burial can influence the overall cost. Larger or more luxurious boats will incur higher fees, while simpler options like bumboats can help keep costs lower.

  • Customisation Services: Optional elements, such as dove releases, additional floral arrangements, or specific music, can increase the total cost. These add-ons are flexible and can be tailored to fit the family’s budget and preferences.

  • Permits and Administration Fees: Although typically included in the service packages, there may be additional administrative fees for permits and regulatory compliance depending on the service provider.

Choosing a sea burial offers significant cost savings while still providing a respectful and memorable farewell. This affordability, coupled with the environmental benefits, makes sea burials an attractive option for many families in Singapore.


Pros and Cons of Sea Burials

Sea burials offer several unique advantages and some considerations that families should weigh before making a decision. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of this burial method.


  • Cost-Effective: Sea burials are generally more affordable than traditional burials and niche rentals in columbariums. With costs starting from S$380, they are a cost-effective option for many families. In comparison, storing ashes in a columbarium starts at around S$1,380, and land burials are even more expensive.

  • Eco-Friendly: Using biodegradable urns and conducting the ceremony at sea reduces the environmental impact. This method avoids the use of land space and the carbon footprint associated with traditional burials.

  • Serene Setting: The ocean provides a peaceful and scenic resting place. Many families find comfort in the thought of their loved one’s remains becoming part of the natural cycle of the sea.

  • Flexibility in Ceremonies: Sea burials allow for personalised ceremonies that can include religious rites, music, and symbolic gestures like releasing flower petals. This flexibility helps families create a meaningful and memorable farewell.


  • Weather-Dependent: Sea burials are subject to weather conditions. Inclement weather can disrupt plans, making it important to choose a suitable day and time for the ceremony.

  • Limited Visitations: Unlike a traditional grave site or niche in a columbarium, the ocean does not provide a specific place for family members to visit. This can be a drawback for those who value having a physical location to pay their respects.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring compliance with NEA regulations and obtaining the necessary permits can add complexity to the planning process. Working with a reputable funeral service provider can help mitigate this issue, but it remains a consideration.

Sea burials offer a unique, respectful, and environmentally friendly way to honour a loved one. By weighing these pros and cons, families can make an informed decision that aligns with their values and preferences.



Sea burials offer a beautiful and environmentally friendly way to honour loved ones in Singapore. This method is becoming increasingly popular, not just because it is cost-effective, but also due to its minimal environmental impact and the peaceful, symbolic nature of the ocean as a final resting place.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has done a great job of setting clear guidelines to ensure that sea burials are conducted safely and respectfully. By following these regulations and working with experienced funeral service providers, families can navigate the process with confidence and ease.

Choosing the right location, planning a personalised ceremony, and being mindful of environmental considerations all contribute to making a sea burial a heartfelt and respectful farewell. The growing acceptance of this practice reflects a broader trend towards sustainable and practical burial options that fit well with Singapore’s limited space and urban environment.

Overall, sea burials provide a dignified, serene, and eco-friendly way to say goodbye to loved ones. As more families in Singapore consider this option, it stands out as a thoughtful and meaningful choice that meets both emotional and practical needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a sea burial?

A sea burial involves scattering the cremated remains of a loved one into the sea from a vessel. This method is both respectful and environmentally friendly, symbolising the return of the deceased to nature.

2. Is sea burial legal in Singapore?

Yes, sea burials are legal in Singapore and are regulated by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to ensure they are conducted safely and respectfully.

3. Where can sea burials be conducted in Singapore?

Sea burials are conducted at a designated location that is 2.8 km south of Pulau Semakau.

4. What are the costs associated with a sea burial in Singapore?

The cost generally begins from S$380, which includes services like boat rental, permits, and biodegradable urns. However, the price can go up to S$2,000 with certain packages.

5. What type of urns are used for sea burials?

To minimise environmental impact, biodegradable urns made from eco-friendly materials like paper, sand, or salt are recommended. These urns dissolve naturally in the water, ensuring no lasting waste is left behind.

6. Can any religion practice sea burials?

Yes, sea burials can be tailored to include religious rites for various faiths such as Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, and more. Service providers offer customised ceremonies that align with the deceased’s and family’s beliefs.

7. What are the environmental benefits of sea burials?

Sea burials are eco-friendly, with minimal impact on the environment and promotion of marine life growth. They avoid the use of land space and reduce the carbon footprint associated with traditional burials.

8. Are there any weather considerations for sea burials?

Yes, sea burials are weather-dependent and best planned for calm weather conditions to ensure a smooth and comfortable ceremony. It’s important to choose a suitable day and time for the ceremony to avoid any disruptions.

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