What is a civil partnership?

Civil partnership is also referred to as the civil union between 2 individuals. It is a legally affirmed partnership where partners of the same-sex or the opposite-sex register themselves under UK law.

Civil partners earn the same respect as any other married couples under the tax and social welfare norms.

Civil partnership for homosexual couples came into force in 2004 as the ‘Civil Partnership Act’ granting them partnership binding status lawfully. On 19 July 2017, a bill, the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act Bill requiring the Secretary of State to issue regulations amending the Civil Partnership Act, so that opposite-sex couples may enter into civil partnerships was introduced by Tim Loughton as a private members bill through the Ballot of private members. The bill was passed by Parliament on 15 March 2019. The bill received Royal Assent on 26 March 2019. The legislation went into effect on 26 May 2019. Section 2 of the Act required the Secretary of State to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 by 31 December 2019, so that people of the opposite sex could enter into civil partnerships. 

The couple must sign a ‘civil partnership document’ with two witnesses and a registrar who will legally handle documents.

If you are from outside the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and your partner is a British citizen, settled in the UK, with limited leave under Appendix EU, as a Turkish ECAA worker or business person, or has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK; you can apply for a family visa as a proposed civil partner to enable you to come to the UK to form a civil partnership in the UK. If granted, you will be given a 6-month visa to allow you to come to the UK and enter into the civil partnership. If you are already in the UK with a valid visa and you partner and you decided to form a civil partnership in the UK, you can give notice and register, subject to that your visa allows you to form a civil partnership in the UK. Afterwards, you can switch to a family visa as a civil partner (civil partnership visa).  

Who can register a civil partnership – Your eligibility

Partners registering for a civil partnership should pay strict attention to specific guidelines before applying for it. Civil partnership eligibility before applying for it.

  1. A minimum requirement is 16 years of age.
  2. Suppose you are above 16 but below 18 years of age. You must have your parents’ consent letter legally addressed.
  3. Citizens from Scotland are exempted from the above permission.
  4. If you are above 18 years, you are lawfully eligible to enter into a civil partnership and register through a registrar.
  5. Neither of you is already either a civil partner or married
  6. You have lived in the same area in England or Wales for at least seven days
  7. If you are linked through blood relations, you may not be able to register.

How to register a civil partnership

Partners must register themselves for civil partnership. This can be done in 3 steps:

Plan a ceremony: You must decide where to have your marriage or civil partnership ceremony before ‘giving notice’. To give notice, you’ll sign a legal statement at your local register office saying you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. This must include details of the final venue for your ceremony. You must hold your ceremony within 12 months of ‘giving notice’.

Give notice: Once the ceremony’s planning is done, the next step is to give notice formally about the civil partnership to take place. For which legal documents need to be signed at a local register office highlighting your civil partnership or marriage intention.

You must give notice at least 29 days before your ceremony. For example, if you give notice on 1 May, the earliest date you can get married or form a civil partnership is 30 May. You must hold your ceremony within 12 months of ‘giving notice’. Failing to conduct the ceremony within 12 months can lead you to restart your application process. 

Where to give notice

You usually need to make an appointment to give notice at your local register office. You must have lived in that registration district for the past 7 days.

If the partners belong to different districts, then they must separately give notice. 

Not necessary that both partners give notice on the same day. They can do it on separate dates also.

If you or your partner is from outside the EU, EEA or from Switzerland, you need to give notice together at a designated register office, even if you live in different districts. The immigration authorities at the Home Office will be told. If this happens, you may need to wait up to 70 days before getting married or forming a civil partnership.


You can register your civil partnership in any register office or at any venue that has been approved to register civil partnerships. Anywhere that has been approved to hold civil marriages automatically has the approval to register civil partnerships. Non-religious venues cannot choose whether to hold civil partnerships or not if they hold weddings. This would be unlawful discrimination.

Religious premises are not obliged to host civil partnership ceremonies. If they do, they can choose to host:

  • all civil partnerships
  • just civil partnerships between two people of the same sex
  • just civil partnerships between two people of the opposite sex

Special rules for housebound people

If any partner is housebound, he/she can also register for a civil partnership. You are considered housebound if a doctor states that, in their opinion, you should not be moved because of disability or illness for at least the next three months.

In this situation, consider the following:

  1. Statement from a competent Doctor is mandatory. The doctor must state this at least 14 days before the notice. Besides, this statement should be communicated to the UK register office at the time of notice.
  2. A limited period of three months is granted instead of 12 months to undergo registration for civil partnership.

Special rules for people who are seriously ill

There are special rules for registering a civil partnership for people who are seriously ill and not expected to recover. These relax the rules for registering a civil partnership to speed up the process. This means that you will not have to wait 28 days between giving notice and registering your civil partnership

For those who are seriously ill and are willing to apply for civil partnership, the partners can notify the registered office with an application specifying the illness’s severity and seeking civil partnership permission.

To support your application, proof of your illness or a medical certificate issued by a competent doctor is needed.

Special rules if one of you has acquired a different gender.

  1. A gender certificate is issued if one needs to change their gender legally.
  2. Citizens from England, wales and Ireland need not evidence gender certificate.
  3. If the partners are already in a civil partnership and seek to acquire a gender certificate, a detailed process is undertaken depending upon the individual’s circumstances. 
  4. You may be asked to end your civil partnership if you are in Scotland. Scottish law does not recognise opposite partner civil partnerships. One needs to convert it into a marriage partnership.
  5. If a civil partnership is registered outside the UK, then the couple must end the civil partnership to gain a gender certificate.

The cost of registering a civil partnership

The cost of registering for a civil partnership will depend on the circumstances at the time of registering. However, a predefined amount of fee is issued by the UK register office.

  1. Both partners must pay £35 each for registration.
  2. The fee is £47 per person if the partners are from outside the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and both of the following apply:
    1. you need a visa to live in the UK
    2. you do not have a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa or a family visa

Once your registration is successful, you and your partner will be issued a Civil partnership certificate.

From 31/12/2019, straight couples or opposite-sex couples may choose to enter into a civil partnership based on the Civil partnership Act 2004. This law was initially for same-sex partners to get a civil partnership. Straight couples can now opt for both marriage or civil partnership under the Civil partnership act 2004.

Benefits of civil partnership include the following:

  • Financial support from the partner
  • Marriage allowance and married couple allowance. 
  • Availing transfer of a blind person allowance up to £2,450
  • Availing Inheritance tax with nil-band rate.
  • Civil partners can avail themselves of bereavement allowance also if they are working couples.

Registering for a civil partnership requires each partner to pay £35 each. If partners are non-UK residents from outside European Union/Switzerland, each partner must pay £47 each for registration.

If a civil partnership has to be ended, or partners want to legally separate, they must apply for a ‘dissolution order’ first. The civil partnership should at least be for 1 year before applying for dissolution. There should be enough evidence shown by the partner/partners for an irrevocable dissolution. Partners living separately for more than 2 years or a maximum of 5 years, intolerable treatment with each other can be an assertive reason for filing dissolution.

Civil partnership ceremony must occur at a licenced venue or a religious place legally allowed to hold civil partnership ceremony. A ceremony can be planned like any other wedding or marriage where celebrants welcome their guests, exchange ring and vows with each other.

Civil partnerships must be registered in the UK register office locally wherein both partners pay £35 each for registration. It usually takes 28 days to register a civil partnership if the UK register office shares no objection. Within 12 months of registration, you must plan a civil partnership ceremony

Yes, for a civil ceremony, you need to show the presence of 2 witnesses and a registrar, who will evidence and proofread the document after the signature of witnesses and partners. The 2 witnesses can be one each from both sides.

You can work in the UK if you are granted a family visa as a civil partner in the UK. 

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