Immigration and overseas partnerships

The introduction of civil partnership for same-sex couples in the UK has impacted on immigration regulations regarding overseas relationships.


If you or your partner is subject to UK immigration control there are several options for you forming a civil partnership, depending on your circumstances. You may need to gain specific entry clearance in order to come to the UK and register your partnership.  For any of the options available lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be assessed and treated in exactly the same way as a heterosexual couple.

Bi-national same-sex couples who are not in, or do not want to be in, a civil partnership are subject to the concessions for unmarried partners set out in the immigration regulations introduced in 1997.Under these regulations same-sex partners were only recognised as eligible for British residency if they could prove they had been in a four-year relationship akin to marriage. In 1999 this term was reduced to a two-year relationship. In 2000 the unmarried partners concession became an Immigration Rule.

For more detailed information about immigration for same-sex couples please see our immigration section or download our 'Civil Partnerships - everything you need to know' guide, which includes a section on immigration rules.

Overseas partnerships

For lesbian and gay couples who have already formed a legal relationship in another country, if that relationship meets the requirements of the Civil Partnership Act, they will not need to register in the UK as well. Schedule 20 of the Act sets out which overseas relationships are automatically recognised in the UK. If your relationship is not listed in Schedule 20, it may still meet the general conditions of the Act, which are outlined in Chapter 2 of the Act.

For an up-to-date list of recognised overseas relationships follow the two links below;
Schedule 20, Civil Partnership Act 2004
Schedule 20, additional list 2012

For more information about having your overseas partnership recognised see the website here. 



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