Civil Partnership

Legal Recognition for Same-sex Couples from December 2005

What is civil partnership?

From December 2005, same-sex couples across the UK can have their relationships legally recognised. From then on, any couple that registers a civil partnership will have the same rights asa a married couple in areas like tax, social security, inheritance and workplace benefits. This gives information about civil partnership in England and Wales.

[Ed: The Act also applies to British nationals resident in Australia who are able to register a civil partnership, with either another British citizen or the citizen of another country.

Residents of the ACT should contact the British High Commission Consular Section in Canberra. NSW residents should contact the Consulate-General in Sydney. Residents of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania* should contact the Consulate-General in Melbourne. Queensland and Northern Territory residents should contact the Consular Agency in Brisbane and residents of WA should contact the Consular Agency in Perth.

Residents in other countries should contact the British High Commission or Consulate-General in that country.

(* Civil Partnerships registered under the laws of Tasmania meet the requirement(s) of the UK's Civil Partnership Act. Therefore a British national who has registered their relationship in Tasmania does not need to also register a UK partnership)

by way of
See also: "Sydney Lesbian Pair Register Their Union")

Who can register?

Two people who are:

can register a civil partnership.

How do we register a civil partnership

First of all, you give notice of your intention to register to your local Register Office. Then after 15 clear days you can register your civil partnership by signing va civil partnership schedule in from of the registrar and your two witnesses. You will have to pay fees to give notice and to register.

The most important things to do are to:

  1. Get advice and information. Your local Register Office or the website of the General Register Office can help -
  2. Decide where you want to register. You can register in the same sorts of plaxces where you can get married: a register office or a venue like a hotel, if it is approved for the purpose. However you cannot register at a religious venue.
  3. Fix the date. If you are registering at an approved venue, remember to check that a registrar can attend on that day.
  4. Arrange to give notice of your intention to register. You both have to give notice at least 15 clear days before the date of registering. Regardless of where you are registering, you must arrange for each of you to give notice to a Register Office for the area in which you have lived for the 7 days before giving notice. You will have to have certain documents with you (such as your birth certificate) - check in advance with the registrar.


    Sam and Alex live in Surrey and book a hotel in Kent for their civil partnership. They make arrangements with the venue and check with the Register Office in Kent that the registrar can attend on their preferred date. They each need to give notice to their local Register Office in Surrey at least 15 clear days before their registration date. So if they wanted to register on 19th January, they must each give notice on or before the 3rd January.

  5. Get registered. A civil partnership is formed when each person signs the civil partnership schedule in front of the registrar and their two witnesses. If you want a ceremony around these formalitied, you should discuss it with the Register Office and the venue. However no religious service can take place while the registrar is officiating at the formation of a civil partnership.

Overseas relationships

Some same-sex overseas relationships will automatically be treated as civil partnerships in the UK. If you are already registered or married abroad you may not need to register again to be legally recognised as civil partners in the UK. Full details of overseas schemes which may be recognised in the UK can be found in Schedule 20 to Sections 212 to 218 of the Act or at

Immigration control

You have to follow special procedures if you want a civil partnership with someone subject to immigration control (e.g. staying in the UK on a visa). For example, when you give notice, you'll need to got together to a specially designated Register Office. For information about immigration related issues, contact the Immigration and Nationality Bureau on 0870 606 7766 or got to

Civil partnership - your rights and responsibilities

Getting registered is a serious decision. As well as being an important commitment, there are significant consequences, bring both rights and responsibilities.

Financial implications

There are some important financial implication to registering as civil partners, or living together in a same-sex relationship after 5 December.


From December 2005 civil partners will have most of the same state pension rights as husbands and they will be treated the same as husbands and wives after 2010, when the treatment of men and women is to be equalised. For further information you should contact the office that deals with your pension.

Civil partners will also be entitled to a survivor's pension from their civil partner's contracted-out occupational or personal pension scheme, public service pension scheme or non-contracted out shceme which currently pays survivor benefits to widows and widowers. Contact The Pension Service on 0845 606 0265 for more information.


Civil partners will be treated in the same way as married people for all tax purposes, including inheritance tax and capital gains tax. Go to or contact your tax ofice for more information.

Social Security Benefits and Tax Credits

From 5 December, the income of a civil partner or a cohabitating same-sex partner will be taken into account when calculating entitlement to income related benefits (e.g. income support) and tax credits. This means they will be treated the same as a married couple and a cohabiting opposite-sex couple.

If you are living together in a same-sex relationship, regardless of whether you register as civil partners, you will need to tell your benefit office if ytou are in receipt of income related benefits or the Tax Credits Office if you claim tax credits. Contact the Benefit Enquiry line on 0800 882 200 or the Tax Credits Helpline on 0845 300 3900 for more information.

Family matters

Children and parenting

Some same-sex couples have caring responsibilities for children. The law will recognise the role of both civil partners in respect of a child living in their household.

When the Adoption and Children Act 2002 comes into forcre on 30 December 2005 a person will be able to acquire parental responsibility for their civil partner's child. They can do this with the agreement of their civil partner, as long as the civil partner has parental responsibility themselves. If the child's other parent also has parental responsibility, both parents must agree. Parental responsibility can also be acquired on application to the court.

For more information about parental responsibility consult your local Citizens Advice Bureau or family law solicitor. For more information about adoption go to or contact your local council or voluntary adoption agency.


Civil partners will have a duty to provide maintenance for each other and for any children of the civil partnership.

Child support

From 5 December 2005, civil partners who are parents will be treated in the same way as married partners for Child Support. Also, parents who are living with a same-sex partner even when they have not formed a civil partnership will be treated in the same way as parents who live together with an opposite-sex partner, but are not married. Depending on your circumstances, this could affect the amount of maintenance paid for your child. For further information you should contact the Child Support Agency on 0845 713 3133.

Other rights and responsibilities

When one civil partner dies

Inheriting property - A bereaved civil partner will be treated in the same way as a widow or widower in relation to inheriting their deceased civil partner's estate, in particular if he or she died without making a will.

Inheriting a tenancy - a person will be entitled to inherit their civil partner's tenancy uypon their death, in the same way that a widow or widower can.

Life assurance - civil partners will have the right to obtain assurance on their civil partner's life on as basis equivalent to married people.

Fatal accidents compensation - If a person dies in an accident caused by someone's negligence, then that person's civil partner, or someone who has been living with the deceased as a civil partner for at least 2 years, will be entitled to claim compensation for financial loss. They will also be entitled to claim bereavement damages.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme - civil partners will be entitled to a fatal injury award on the same basis as married people.

If things go wrong

End a civil partnership

A civil partnership can only be ended by death, dissolution or annulment. Dissolution is a court-based process and as with a marriage you will need to talk to a solicitor if you want to dissolve your civil partnership, though you cannot dissolve it less than a year after it is formed.

The grounds for dissolving a civil partnership are:

Annulment only applies in specific situations, for example where one of the couple did not validly consent to the civil partnership.

The courts will have the power to make provision for the division of property upon separation, the maintenance of either civil partner, and residence and contact with any children of the civil partnership and the maintenance of the child.

Contacts for further information

For more information about civil partnership go to the Women and Equality Unit website at or write to: Civil Partnership, WEU, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET.

Interested in registering a civil partnership? Go to or contact your local register office.

Stonewall can provide information on a wide range of issues affecting lesbian and gay people. Go to

This fact sheet only deals with registering a civil partnership in England and Wales. For more information about civil partnership in Scotland go to and for Northern Ireland go to

For more information on:

Tax - contact your tax office or go to
Pensions - contact The Pension Service on 0845 606 0265
Social Security Benefits - contact trhe Benefit Enquiry line on 0800 882 200
Tax Credits - contact the Tax Credits Helpline on 0845 300 3900
Child Benefit - contact Child Benefit helpline on 0845 302 1444 or e-mail
Adoption - for more information go to or contact your local council or voluntary adoption agency.
Immigration - contact the Immigration and Nationality Bureau on 0870 606 7766 or go to
Relationship support - contact Relate on 0845 456 1310
Domestic violence - 24 hour freephone helpline 0808 2000 247 Broken Rainbow (lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender domestic violence forum) 0845 260 4460 (available 9am-1pm; 2pm-5pm).


This fact sheet was prepared from the publiciation entitled "Civil Partership" first published September 2005. Department of Trade and Industry . and is available online at and is also available as a text file and in accessible formats on demand.

Overseas partnerships schemes recognised under the UK's Civil Partnerships Act (from Schedule 20 to Sections 212 to 218 of the Act)

Andorra - unio estable de parella (stable union of pairs)
Australia: Tasmania - significant relationship
Belgium - cohabitation légale, wettelijke samenwoning, gesetzliches zusammenwohnen (statutory cohabitation)
Belgium - marriage
Canada - marriage
Canada: Nova Scotia - domestic partnership
Canada: Quebec - union civile, civil union
Denmark - registreret partnerskab (registered partnership)
Finland - rekisteröity parisuhde registrerad partnerskap (registered partnership)
France - pacte civile de solidarité (civil solidarity pact)
Germany - Lebenspartnerschaft (life partnership)
Iceland - sta-festa samvist (confirmed cohabitation)
Luxembourg - partenariat enregistré, eingetragene partnerschaft (registered partnership)
Netherlands - geregistreerde partnerschap (registered partnership)
Netherlands - marriage
New Zealand - civil union
Norway - registrert partnerskap (registered partnership)
Sweden - registrerat partnerskap (registered partnership)
United States of America: California - domestic partnership
United States of America: Connecticut - civil union
United States of America: Maine - domestic partnership
United States of America: Massachusetts - marriage
United States of America: New Jersey - domestic partnership
United States of America: Vermont - civil union

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