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Civil Partnership

You can get married or form a civil partnership in the UK if you’re:

  • 16 or over
  • free to marry or form a civil partnership (single, divorced or widowed)
  • not closely related

You need permission from your parents or guardians if you’re under 18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Only same sex couples can form a civil partnership.

Same sex couples

You can:

  • form a civil partnership in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • get married in England, Scotland and Wales
  • convert your civil partnership into a marriage in England, Scotland and Wales

Speak to our assessment team now to confirm your eligibility and options for free on 0203 384 4389.

Further Information

What you need to do

There are usually 2 steps to getting married or forming a civil partnership in England and Wales.

  1. Give notice at your local register office.
  2. Have a religious ceremony or civil ceremony at least 28 days after giving notice.

There may be different steps for some religious ceremonies.

Getting married or forming a civil partnership abroad

Your overseas marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in the UK if you follow the correct process according to local law – you will not have to register it in the UK.

Marrying in England or Wales if you live abroad

You may be able to give notice in the country where you’re living if that country has signed up to the ‘British Subjects Facilities Acts’. Your partner must be a resident of England or Wales. If you want to confirm whether you are able to give notice abroad, please speak with one of our friendly team who can check whether your country is a participating member of the scheme.

Giving notice at your local register office

For most marriages or civil partnerships you must give at least 28 full days’ notice at your local register office. You need to include details of where you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. Your notice will be publicly displayed in the register office for 28 days. You may also need to give notice here if you plan to marry or form a civil partnership abroad. Ask the overseas authority if you’ll need a ‘certificate of no impediment’. You can only give notice at a register office if you have lived in the registration district for at least the past 7 days. There are different rules for religious ceremonies. You must get married or register your civil partnership within one year, or 3 months if you’re in Scotland.

Foreign nationals

There are different rules if you or your partner are a foreign national from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Documents to take to the register office

When you go to the register office, you need to take proof of your name, age and nationality. For example your:

  • valid passport
  • birth certificate
  • national identity card from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • certificate of registration
  • certificate of naturalisation
  • biometric residence card or permit
  • travel document

If you’ve changed your name, you must bring proof – eg a copy of a deed poll. The registrar also needs proof of your address, for example a:

  • valid UK or EEA driving licence
  • gas, water or electricity bill from the last 3 months
  • bank or building society statement from the last month
  • council tax bill from the last 12 months
  • mortgage statement from the last 12 months
  • current tenancy agreement
  • letter from your landlord confirming you live there and including your landlord’s name, address and their signature dated within the last 7 days

If you’ve been divorced or widowed

If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before, you need to take either:

  • a decree absolute or final order
  • the death certificate of your former partner

Overseas divorces and annulments

A divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country where it took place. You need to take your divorce or annulment documents to the register office if they were granted outside of the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. The registrar may need to get in touch with the General Register Office (GRO) to confirm whether your marriage or civil partnership can go ahead. If they do, you’ll have to pay a fee of between £50 and £75. The fee will be confirmed once GRO have seen your documents.

Foreign Nationals

If either of you is from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and subject to immigration control, you or your partner will need a visa to come to the UK to:

  • give notice
  • get married or form a civil partnership
This includes people who do not normally need visas for general visits (unless you’re already in the UK).

Once in the UK (or if you’re already in the UK), you and your partner must give at least 28 days’ notice at a designated register office if both the following apply to either of you:

  • you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • you’re subject to immigration control

Get a visa if you’re outside the UK

The application process is different depending on your partner’s circumstances.

If your partner is from the UK or settled in the UK

Apply for a family of a settled person visa (eg, as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner) if you intend to stay in the UK for more than 6 months. Apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa for a stay of less than 6 months.

If your partner is from theEEA (excluding UK) or Switzerland

If your partner is a permanent UK resident (ie has a ‘document certifying permanent residence’), you can apply for a family of a settled person visa. If your partner is not a permanent UK resident, you can apply for an EEA family permit to accompany or join your partner in the UK. You’ll usually have to prove that you and your partner have lived together in a relationship for at least 2 years.

If your partner is not from the UK, Switzerland or EEA, and not settled in the UK

Apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa. You’ll have to leave the UK within 6 months.

Giving Notice

Both you and your partner must give at least 28 days’ notice at a designated register office in England and Wales. You can only give notice if you’ve both lived in England and Wales for at least 7 days. If you’re both exempt from immigration control you need to give notice at your local register office. You’ll need to show evidence of why you’re exempt, eg you have right of abode.

When your notice period can be extended

Your notice period can be extended to 70 days if you or your partner:

  • are from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • have limited or no immigration status in the UK
  • do not give the registrar enough evidence to show you’re settled in the UK

You’ll be told within 28 days if your notice period will be extended. The registrar will tell you if this applies to you and your proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office. The Home Office may investigate to make sure your marriage or civil partnership is genuine. You may be interviewed by the Home Office or asked for more information as part of the investigation. You must comply with the investigation or you will not be allowed to get married or form a civil partnership. You must also tell the Home Office if you change your address during the notice period.

Documents you need

You need to take proof of your name, date of birth, nationality and address to the designated register office. You’ll also be asked about your partner’s immigration status if they’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland (or your partner will be asked about your status if you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland).

Fees and conditions

You will have to pay a notice fee of £35 if your passport or immigration document shows that you:

  • have settled status in the UK, eg indefinite leave to remain
  • are exempt from immigration control, eg right of abode
  • have a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa (you both must also bring a passport sized photograph)
  • a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner visa (you both must also bring a passport sized photograph)
  • have an EU right of permanent residence in the UK

If you do not have any of the above documents, you’ll have to pay a fee of £47 and give:

  • details of your normal address if it’s different from the address you’ve used to give notice
  • details of a UK contact address if your normal address is outside the UK
  • details of any previous names and current or previous names or identities that you’ve been known as
  • a passport sized photograph

Convert a civil partnership into a marriage

Converting in England and Wales

You can convert your civil partnership into a marriage at:

  • a register office
  • a local registration office
  • a religious or approved premises where same sex marriages are allowed – a ceremony may follow

There are different rules for Scotland. You can’t convert a civil partnership into a marriage in Northern Ireland. You’ll get a marriage certificate, dated when your civil partnership was formed.

How much it costs

You’ll pay:

  • £4 for a marriage certificate
  • £45 to convert your civil partnership
  • £27 for an appointment, if you have a ceremony

The cost of the ceremony will vary by venue.

What you need

You’ll need to sign a ‘conversion into marriage’ declaration. Make an appointment to do this with the superintendent registrar at your local register office. You’ll need your original civil partnership certificate and your ID – ask the register office what ID to provide.

Converting with a ceremony

Contact a registered venue to book a date for your ceremony. You’ll also be able to have the ceremony at venues where same sex couples can get married, for example:

  • religious buildings registered for the marriage of same sex couples
  • premises where a ceremony according to the Jewish faith or the Society of Friends will follow immediately after the conversion

You can discuss the wording you want during your ceremony with the person conducting it. Your friends and family can attend but you don’t need witnesses. You and your partner must sign a ‘conversion into marriage’ declaration. The superintendent registrar must be in attendance and also sign the declaration.

Converting abroad

If you got your civil partnership in the UK, you may be able to convert it into a marriage in some countries abroad. You’ll get a marriage certificate, dated when your civil partnership was formed.

Eligibility

You can convert your civil partnership if all of the following apply:

  • you’ve been living in the country for at least 28 days
  • your civil partnership took place under the laws of England and Wales, or Scotland
  • at least one of you is a British citizen

Countries you can convert in

Contact your nearest British embassy or consulate to find out if you’re eligible and to book an appointment.

Documents you’ll need

You’ll need:

  • your passport
  • your partner’s passport
  • proof that you’re resident in the country you’re converting in (eg an employer’s letter or bank statement)
  • the original civil partnership certificate

How much it costs

You’ll pay:

  • £150 to convert your civil partnership – check how to pay with the embassy or consulate in the country
  • £50 for a marriage certificate, usually in the local currency

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