Wants to scatter mother’s ashes in Cayman

| 21/04/2016

I recently lost my mother in Canada and her wish was to be cremated and brought back to Cayman where our family could spread her remains in our yard under a very special tree we have that she loved looking at every time she visited. I was told we cannot bring remains in carry-on and they have to be in regular luggage and paperwork is required. I am not comfortable doing this in fear of our luggage getting lost so I would like to know exactly what the process is (if any) for us to bring home our Mom and grant her final wish. 

Auntie’s answer: It is actually very straightforward to apply to be able to bring your mother’s ashes to Cayman. I confirmed this with Scott Ruby of Bodden Funeral Services, who has dealt with this situation before. Perhaps the most important part for you is that he assured me you definitely can carry her ashes with you on the plane.

To get permission to do that you need to get a copy of both the death and cremation certificates and provide a letter containing required details to the Department of Environmental Health (DEH). The certificates can be scanned and emailed, but a very helpful DEH representative emphasised that the copies must be very clear and easy to read. Do not take a photo of them and send that along. Get a proper scan and email that to the DEH. And, you do not have to get either of them notarised, as DEH has simplified the procedure a bit.

As I mentioned, you need to write a letter requesting permission to import your mother’s ashes, which can be mailed, emailed or faxed to the DEH. Mr Ruby very kindly provided a template that you can use, which I have included below:

Department of Environmental Health


 Re: [Name of deceased]

 I am requesting permission on behalf of [name of deceased] to have his/her cremated remains brought onto Grand Cayman. [Name of deceased] passed on [date] in [location] and was cremated at [crematorium name] on [date]. These ashes will be laid to rest in [location in Cayman]. I will carry the ashes with me on [date].

[Your name]

The address and email of the DEH, along with the rest of the requirements for the application, can be found on the DEH website.

The application costs $25 and it usually takes a few days for permission to be granted.

When travelling with your mother’s ashes, you must have the original certificates, along with the DEH clearance, to show Customs in Cayman.

However, as you can see in the letter, you are required to specify what will be done with your mother’s ashes. I asked the DEH about your wish to spread her ashes in your yard. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to do that. The DEH will grant permission to scatter someone’s ashes at sea, but never on land. The urn can stay with you, and I was told that people also keep some ashes in a special locket or wristband. But, there does not appear to be any way to do what you were planning. I am sorry about that.


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (5)

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  1. Soldier Crab says:

    With all due respect, the course of action proposed by Anonymous 22/4 11;00am would cost a substantial sum of money.
    From my own experience: do the paperwork and bring the ashes to Cayman. After that it’s up to you; no-one will ask you if you are taking the ashes with you when you leave.

    There are innumerable make-do cemetaries in yards all over the three islands; some are still in use………

  2. Anonymous says:

    I fail to see how DEH can restrict a person scattering family ashes on your own property and why it would be their mandate to do so. Just get them to Cayman shores and carry out your family wishes. I had friends bring ashes to Cayman in checked baggage for a sea ceremony without any permission from DEH.The sooner Cayman gets a Crematorium the better, land is scarce.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe the DEH requirement is for ashes to be scattered — with their permission — beyond the 3-mile mark at sea.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I recently brought my mother back from the USA on Cayman Airways in a casket for a full casket burial at sea. Go to a local funeral home in your area and have them contact Bodden Funeral home here on Walkers Road, pay them both to do all the arrangements and her/your wishes will be met with the greatest of care and respect. I had absolutely no issue with this process.

    • Glenroy Bodden says:

      I was in Little Cayman sometime in the mid ’90’s and the ashes of an American was brought back to his home there and scattered in his garden.