A funeral director is not required for the burial of cremated remains at sea. However, full body burials require specific preparation to ensure the body or coffin sinks quickly. And in many states a licensed funeral director is required. The Environmental Protection Agency regulations for full body burials at sea in the United States require that the site of interment be 3 nautical miles (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) from land and at a depth of at least 600 feet (180 m). California prohibits whole body burial within its state-asserted three-mile limit. Off the eastern coast of the United States, the closest sufficient depths are off Long Island (75 miles/121 km), Ocracoke (20 miles/32 km), and Miami (5 miles/8.0 km). This may require travel more than 30 miles (48 km) for a suitable site.
Departing from the New England Area only requires a voyage of appx 45 miles to sea to reach the required 600' ocean depth. Sufficient depth is within 10 miles or less at many harbors along the U.S. west coast, including San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Fort Bragg, Eureka, and Crescent City, all in California. The United States Navy inters intact remains from Norfolk and San Diego only. The United States Navy requires a metal casket for intact remains, but full body burial in a suitably weighted shroud is also seen as legal.
The United States is like many countries which permit the spreading of cremation ashes within their Exclusive Economic zone - when spreading ashes from a ship which is registered in a different country, the regulations and reporting procedures for the ships flag state need to be complied with once the vessel is in international waters, that is, outside 12 nautical miles. Ships follow the London convention principles, as opposed to MARPOL regulations, as the ash is intentionally taken on board for discharge at sea, as opposed to ash generated on passage from the ship's incinerators. It should be further considered that on 1 January 2013, MARPOL Annex V came into force, which prevents discharge of a ship's incinerator ash.