On this page you will find information on:
- Registering a civil partnership in Scotland
- How do I make an appointment?
- Where to register a civil partnership
- How and when to give notice
- Documents required
- Changing a Civil Partnership into a Marriage
- Are you subject to immigration controls?
- Changing Civil Partnerships registered in Scotland into marriages
- Changing Civil Partnerships registered outside of Scotland into marriages
By law both parties to a proposed civil partnership are required to submit notice forms to the registrar of the district in which the civil partnership is to take place informing him of their intention to register a civil partnership.
Forms for giving notice can be obtained from any registrar of births etc. in Scotland or from the National Records of Scotland website.
Notice must be given in the three-month period prior to the date of the intended civil partnership and not later than 29 days before that date.
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Who can register a civil partnership in Scotland?
Any two persons, regardless of where they live, can register a civil partnership in Scotland, provided that:
- both persons are at least 16 years of age on the day they wish to register their civil partnership
- they are not related to one another in a way which would prevent their registering their civil partnership
- each is unmarried or not already registered as a civil partner (any person who has already been married or registered as a civil partner must produce documentary evidence that the previous marriage or civil partnership registration has been ended by death, divorce, annulment or dissolution)
- they are of the same sex
- they are capable of understanding the nature of a civil partnership and of validly consenting to its formation.
A civil partnership may be registered by a district registrar or an assistant registrar or a religious or belief celebrant who has who has been authorised by the Registrar General for that purpose or whose religious or belief body has been prescribed in regulations under the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
The registration of a civil partnership by a district registrar or an assistant registrar may take place either in a registration office or in a place that the local authority agrees to. Therefore, it is important that you should contact as early as possible the registrar for the registration district in which you want to register your civil partnership.
The registration of a civil partnership by a religious or belief celebrant may take place anywhere agreed between the celebrant and the couple.
You can each obtain a civil partnership notice form, and information about fees, from any registrar of births etc. in Scotland or from the National Records of Scotland website.
Each of you must complete and submit a civil partnership notice, along with the required documents (see below) and the appropriate fee, to the registrar for the district in which the civil partnership is to be registered.
The notices must be submitted early enough to enable the registrar to satisfy themself that you are free to register a civil partnership. Normally notices should be submitted about ten to twelve weeks beforehand. The minimum period is 29 days before the date of the proposed civil partnership registration, but if you leave things as late as this you could be faced with the need to postpone your civil partnership registration.
Only in exceptional circumstances will the Registrar General authorise a civil partnership registration to take place if 29 days' notice has not been given.
When giving or sending the civil partnership notice forms to the registrar each of you must supply the following:
- your birth certificate, if you are adopted, your adoption certificate
- evidence of your usual residence
- if you have been married or in a registered civil partnership before and the marriage or civil partnership has been dissolved or annulled, a decree of divorce or dissolution or annulment or a certified copy decree. A decree of divorce or dissolution granted outwith Scotland must be absolute or final – a decree nisi is not acceptable.
- A passport or other document to provide evidence of nationality.
- if your spouse or civil partner is deceased, the death certificate of your former spouse or civil partner.
- if any of these documents are in a language other than English, a certified translation in English must also be provided.
Do not delay giving notice simply because you are waiting for any of the above documents mentioned above to come to hand.
If time is getting short it is better to give notice first and then pass the documents to the registrar when they become available; but they must be made available to the registrar before the civil partnership registration.
Provided the documents are in order the civil partnership registration may proceed as arranged.
There is some paperwork to be completed, and you will need to book a place, date and time. You may find it useful to download the following documents.
- Changing a Civil Partnership registered in Scotland to a Marriage [opens in a new window]
- Application Form to change a Civil Partnership registered in Scotland to a Marriage
- Changing a Civil Partnership registered outside Scotland into a Marriage [opens in a new window]
If you are subject to Immigration Controls you will have to provide extra documentation to that outlined above. In particular, you will need to provide a Declaration of Immigration Status form which can be obtained from the registrar or the NRS website. Evidence to support the statement you make on the Declaration of Immigration Status form will also be required. If you are in any doubt about what is required, or if you need further information, you should consult the registrar or contact NRS.
If you are just visiting Scotland to change your civil partnership registered in Scotland to a marriage, you do not need entry clearance but will need to provide evidence to show that you are in an existing civil partnership when you enter the UK.
If you have any questions, contact the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration Contact Centre (Tel no: 0300 123 2241).
Registrars have a statutory duty to report any marriage they suspect has been registered for the sole purpose of evading statutory immigration controls.
Couples in a civil partnership registered in Scotland can change their civil partnership to a marriage in Scotland if they wish.
How to change a civil partnership to marriage
There are two ways you can do this:
By the administrative route using the prescribed application form:
You can change your civil partnership to marriage using the administrative route. If you propose to use the administrative route, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with the local registrar for the date on which you want the change to take place. You should then complete sections 1-12 of the prescribed application form with details of each party to the marriage being entered in one of the two columns on the form. As outlined on the form, the information supplied at sections 1, 4 and 5 should be that applicable at the time of the application. You will also be given the opportunity at section 10 to determine what designation you want to appear on the marriage register and any marriage certificate (i.e. Bride, Bridegroom or No designation).
When you attend the registration office, you will be expected to provide an extract from the entry in the civil partnership register relating to your civil partnership and photographic evidence of your ID (e.g. passport, driving licence etc). You will then both sign the application form at section 13 in the presence of each other and the registrar. The registrar will prepare an entry in the marriage register and you can then obtain a marriage certificate.
Alternatively, you can change your civil partnership to marriage by having a civil, religious or belief ceremony. For more information about how to organise your ceremony see Leaflet RM1 which can be obtained from any Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland. You can get the address of your local registrar from the phone book or the National Records of Scotland (NRS) website . Information on getting married in Scotland is also available on the NRS website.
Date of marriage
Under both routes described above, your marriage will be recognised in law as having started on the date you registered your civil partnership in Scotland and, if you obtain a marriage certificate, it will state that your marriage is legally recognised as having started on that earlier date.
How much does it cost?
If you decide that you want to change your civil partnership to marriage by having a ceremony, then you will need to pay the relevant fee for the type of marriage ceremony you choose
If you decide to change your civil partnership to marriage by the administrative route, you will be required to pay the statutory fee of £30 plus £10 for a copy of the marriage certificate.
This leaflet gives general guidance only and should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law. If, after reading it, you are still in doubt you should seek advice from any registrar of births etc. in Scotland or from staff in Marriage/Civil Partnership Section of the National Records of Scotland (NRS), New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT.
E-mail: email@example.com or telephone 0131 314 4447.
Couples in a same sex civil partnership registered outside of Scotland may wish to change their relationship into a marriage in Scotland There is no obligation on couples to change their civil partnership into a marriage. It is entirely a decision for couples themselves.
For convenience, this guidance note refers to “civil partnership”, which is the term used in Scotland and in the rest of the United Kingdom. However, a number of same sex relationships registered outwith the UK are treated as civil partnerships in Scotland even though they may be called something else (eg “registered partnership” or “civil union”) where they were originally registered.
The country which originally registered your civil partnership may have established procedures to enable this to change to marriage in that country. You may wish to consider this option as it may provide greater certainty generally about your legal status. The effect outside Scotland of changing your civil partnership into a marriage recognised by Scots law may not be clear.
This guidance note by the Scottish Government outlines eligibility requirements to change a civil partnership registered outside of Scotland into a marriage and the procedures to follow. It also suggests that couples considering taking this step may wish to obtain their own independent legal advice on how the marriage formed in Scotland would be treated outside Scotland. Any such advice may need to cover both how the marriage would be treated in the country that originally registered the civil partnership and how the marriage would be treated in another country.
Couples from outwith the European Economic Area and Switzerland may be subject to UK immigration controls. Further information is available from National Records of Scotland’s website and from the Gov.UK website.
The Scottish Government, National Records of Scotland and Scottish local authority registrars cannot provide any advice to couples on how the marriage would be treated outside Scotland.
To change a civil partnership registered outside of Scotland into a marriage here, the relationship must be treated as a civil partnership in Scotland.
Civil partnerships registered in England and Wales and Northern Ireland are also civil partnerships in Scotland.
For relationships registered outside of the United Kingdom, the relationship must meet all of the following criteria:
- Either be a specified relationship or a relationship which meets general conditions:
- Registered by a responsible authority outside of the United Kingdom.
- Formed by two people of the same sex.
- Formed by two people who are neither married nor already in a civil partnership.
- The couple must have been able to enter into the civil partnership under overseas law and must have complied with all necessary requirements overseas. If one or both of the couple were domiciled in a part of the United Kingdom, they must have met UK requirements on eligibility to enter into a civil partnership.
A “specified relationship” is one where specific provision has been laid down in legislation so that it is treated as a civil partnership in the United Kingdom, including Scotland.
In practice, this means that most same sex registered partnerships, civil unions or similar relationships which have been registered outwith the UK are treated as civil partnerships in Scotland.
To change a civil partnership registered outside of Scotland into a marriage here, couples need to go through a marriage ceremony. Therefore:
- Notice of intention to marry must be given.
- A marriage notice period applies. (A minimum of 28 clear days).
- Barriers to marriage (eg too closely related) apply.
- Fees apply. These fees will be the same as for any other marriage ceremony in Scotland.
- The marriage ceremony may be civil or religious or belief (provided the relevant religious or belief body has opted into the solemnisation of same sex marriage).
You will need to provide the registrar with your civil partnership certificate or equivalent information and evidence.
The local authority registrar can provide further details of the requirements in relation to the ceremony. The effect of changing a civil partnership registered outside Scotland into a marriage in Scotland
Your marriage will be recognised as a marriage in Scotland. The formation of a marriage ends your civil partnership for the purposes of the law of Scotland and treats you as married from 5 December 2005 or the date your civil partnership was registered, whichever is the later. The reason for the reference to 5 December 2005 is that is when same sex relationships were first given legal recognition in Scotland.
There is no guarantee of your marriage being recognised in your home country or in any other country. Therefore, you may wish to obtain your own independent legal advice on the effect in your home country or any other country of changing a civil partnership registered outside Scotland into a marriage in Scotland. In particular, you may wish to check whether any uncertainty on your civil status might require you to go to court in another country to seek clarity on your status.
Areas where lack of clarity on civil status may have an effect on your rights and responsibilities include property law; succession (inheritance); and pensions. There could also be an effect on others (eg on any children you may have).
Other points you may wish to consider in relation to changing your civil partnership into marriage in Scotland include:
- Your home country or any other country may still regard you as being in a civil partnership.
- Your home country or any other country may not recognise you as being in a legal relationship (for example, if the country sees your civil partnership as having been ended but the country does not provide for marriage for same sex couples).
- Your home country or any other country might treat the marriage formed in Scotland as a new relationship which may be entitled to some form of recognition, but only from the date the marriage was formed.
- If you should subsequently divorce or dissolve your relationship, there may be uncertainty as to whether this divorce or dissolution would be recognised across the world. This could stop you from subsequently re-marrying, or entering a new civil partnership.
- If you should subsequently divorce or dissolve your relationship outwith Scotland, any financial provision may be affected by the fact that the relationship was changed into marriage in Scotland.
- If your home country or any other country do not recognise the marriage in Scotland, and you should subsequently divorce or dissolve your relationship, it is possible that there could be court proceedings on ending the relationship in more than one country.