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Before a civil partnership ceremony

Information what civil partnerships are, how they differ from marriage, who can form one, what if your under 18, where can it be formed, what to do before formation and how is it formed.

What are civil partnerships?

Civil partnerships are the government's approach to giving similar rights to same sex couples as those enjoyed by married heterosexual (opposite sex) couples.

Civil partners will have equal treatment in a wide range of legal matters with married couples, including:

  • tax, including inheritance tax
  • employment benefits
  • most state and occupational pension benefits
  • income related benefits, tax credits and child support 
  • duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family
  • ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner’s child
  • inheritance of a tenancy agreement
  • recognition under intestacy rules
  • access to fatal accidents compensation
  • protection from domestic violence
  • recognition for immigration and nationality purposes.

How does civil partnership differ from marriage?

Civil partnership is a legal relationship, just for same-sex couples. There are a small number of differences between civil partnership and marriage, for example:

  • a civil partnership is formed when the second civil partner signs the relevant document; a civil marriage is registered when the couple exchange spoken 
    words/lines
  • Opposite-sex couples can choose to have a religious or civil marriage ceremony as they choose, whereas formation of a civil partnership will be a civil procedure.

Who can form a civil partnership? 

Two people of the same sex will be able to form a civil partnership as long as:

  • neither of them are under 16. People aged 16 or 17 will usually be required to obtain written permission from their parent(s) or legal guardian(s)
  • neither of them are already a civil partner or lawfully married
  • they are not relatives who are legally forbidden from forming a civil partnership.

What happens if one or both of the party is under the age of 18?

A young person who is 16 or 17 will need permission in order to form a civil partnership unless he/she is a surviving civil partner. He/she needs the permission of each parent with parental responsibility and any legal guardian. There are some instances when a young person aged 16 or 17 will need the permission of someone else as well as a parent or guardian. This will usually be where the local authority is involved in the young person's care.

Sometimes parental consent may be not be available, for example, where the young person does not know where one of his/her parents is. In these cases, the 
register office may waive the need for permission or a court can give the necessary permission. A young person may need to get legal advice. Parental consent may be refused. In such cases, the court can give the necessary permission. If a young person cannot get permission and decides to apply to court for the necessary permission, he/she should seek legal advice.

Where can a civil partnership be formed?

The range of places where civil partnerships can be formed is similar to that available for civil marriage. As well as a number of council venues we also have a number of approved venues such as hotels and stately homes which have been approved for civil partnerships. Any venue approved for a civil marriage will be deemed to be also approved for the purposes of civil partnership formations.

DirectGov website has a search facility for finding approved premises anywhere in England and Wales.

DirectGov - find a civil marriage or civil partnership venue (external website)

The following pdf document provides a list of approved venues within East Riding of Yorkshire. 

Most of our council ceremony rooms have access to our web cameras facility, whereby friends and relatives who cannot be present on your big day can view the ceremony via the internet. You can even send your greetings by email. Please ensure that your message arrives in good time and supply details of names of couple and time of marriage, in order that we may deliver your message as soon as possible.

You can view images of the suites on the arranging a marriage ceremony page.

If you wish to hold a civil partnership celebratory ceremony at a private venue that has some special meaning to you such as your own home or garden this may be arranged, subject to a satisfactory assessment. 

What should a couple do before formation?

A couple must give formal notice of a proposed civil partnership to the local register office, even if they intend to register the civil partnership somewhere else. They can only do this once they have lived in the area for at least seven days. Each of them must give this notice in person. The notice must include 
where the couple wish the civil partnership registration to take place. The notice must also include a written declaration stating the following:

  • that he/she believes that there is no legal reason why the civil partnership cannot be formed
  • that the proposed civil partners have lived for the previous seven clear days in the local register office’s area
  • if the couple have lived in the local register office’s area for less than seven days, each of them must wait for seven clear days before they can give notice. Some documents will have to be taken to the register office.

Documents required by each person giving notice:

Proof of identity

A valid British passport or: 

  • Utility bill dated no more than three months but, no less than 7 days before the date of the notice appointment. 
  • Bank or building society statement or passbook dated no more than one month and no less than 7 days before the date of the notice appointment 
  • Council tax bill dated no more than one year before the date of the notice appointment 
  • Mortgage statement dated no more than one year before the date of notice
  • Current residential tenancy agreement dated within one year of the date of the  notice appointment
  • Valid driving licence in the name of the person giving notice. 

The notice fee

£35.00 each person. This may be paid in cash, by cheque or credit or debit card.

Proof of address

Any one for the above identity documents.

And if applicable

  • Death Certificate of last wife/husband/civil partner  
  • Decree Absolute from last divorce, together with a certified translation if in a foreign language  
  • Dissolution Order from a previous civil partnership  
  • Proof of any name change. If you have changed your name by a deed poll that has been registered with the Royal Courts of Justice or by statutory declaration you must  produce original documents to confirm this (photocopies cannot be accepted)

Were you born after 1982 and do not have a valid British passport?

If you were born after 1982 and do not hold a valid British passport, you will need to bring with you:

Proof of identity

Full birth certificate and mother's birth certificate, plus one of the following: 

  • Utility bill dated no more than three months and no less than 7 days before the date of the notice appointment
  • Bank or building society statement or book dated no more than one month and no less than 7 days before the date of the notice  appointment
  • Council tax bill dated no more than one year before the date of the notice appointment
  • Mortgage statement dated no more than one year before the date of the notice appointment 
  • Current residential tenancy agreement dated within one year of the date of the notice appointment
  • Valid driving licence in the name of the person giving notice. 

Proof of address

Any of the above identity documents.

Notice fee

£35.00 each person. This may be paid in cash, by cheque or credit or debit card.

And if applicable:

  • Death Certificate of last former wife/husband/civil partner
  • Decree Absolute from  last divorce, together with a certified translation if in a foreign language
  • Dissolution Order from a previous civil partnership
  • Proof of any name change. If you have changed your name by a deed poll that has been registered with the Royal Courts of Justice or by statutory declaration you must  produce original documents to confirm this (photocopies cannot be accepted)

What happens next?

Once the couple have given their notices, the register office must display some information about the couple for 28 days. The address(es) of the couple will not appear on this notice for reasons of privacy. The formation cannot proceed until the 28 day waiting period has passed for each of the notices. This is to allow any person to make an objection to a civil partnership if this is necessary.

We have a number of registration offices located through out East Riding of Yorkshire.

If one partner is subject to immigration control, there are additional requirements and the waiting period may in some cases be extended to 70 days.

What is a civil partnership schedule??

Once the 28 day waiting period has passed, if there are no objections to the registration of the civil partnership and no legal reasons why it cannot go ahead, the register office will give the couple a legal document called a civil partnership  schedule. The couple will need this in order to form a civil partnership. If the formation is to take place at the register office this will be kept there until the day  of the formation. If someone has made an objection, the register office will not provide the couple with a civil partnership schedule until:

  • it has investigated the objection and is satisfied that the objection should not
  • stop the register office from giving the couple a civil partnership schedule; or
  • the person who made the objection has withdrawn it.

Either one of the couple may appeal to the registrar general against a register office’s refusal to issue a civil partnership schedule.

How is a civil partnership formed?

A civil partnership is formed when a couple have completed a formal registration process. Once the 28 day period has passed, if no valid objections have been made, the proposed civil partners are free to register a civil partnership within twelve months of the first notice being recorded. If they do not do this within this time limit, they cannot register without starting the process again. There are some circumstances where a civil partnership may be formed sooner than 28 days after giving notice, for example, where one of the partners is seriously ill and not expected to recover.

Two people are regarded as having formed a civil partnership once each of them has signed the civil partnership schedule in front of two witnesses and the civil partnership registrar. The witnesses and registrar must also sign the civil partnership schedule. A couple can get a civil partnership certificate when they formation has been entered onto the registration service's electronic register, although they must pay a fee for this. They can buy further copies later if they wish. There is no need to have any form of ceremony as part of the formation procedure. We do offer a range of civil partnership ceremonies from plain and simple to one specially put together. However, nothing religious can be included at the signing of the civil partnership document.

There are special rules for:

  • housebound people
  • detained people
  • people who are seriously ill 
  • people subject to immigration control
  • civil partnership registration for two non- EEA citizens
  • registering if one partner is in the armed forces and serves at sea
  • registering a civil partnership outside the United Kingdom.
Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 February 2017