Same-sex couples have been able to form a civil partnership since December 2004. This gives them legal recognition and the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, for example, in pensions, life assurance and inheritance. Parliament approved and made The Civil Partnerships (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 on 5 November 2019. These extend eligibility for civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, and they came into force on 2 December 2019.
Civil partnerships can be converted into marriages, and since March 2014 same-sex couples can also marry.
A couple wishing to become civil partners must give 'notice' to the registrar in the area where they live. They will take your details and display them in the register office’s waiting room for twenty-eight days. This is a legal requirement and the civil partnership can only be registered after this.
Registration can take place either in a register office or in a licensed venue. It can be very simple or part of a fuller ceremony. The exchanging of vows is optional, but both the couple and two witnesses will need to sign the civil partnership schedule.
Couples wishing to form civil partnerships must be over 16 years of age. If they are under 18 they must have the consent of their parents or guardians. They cannot be currently married or be in another civil partnership.