Civil Partnerships

Stonewall lobbied hard for the introduction of civil partnerships which resulted in the passing of the Civil Partnerships Act 2004. Since then there have been approximately 500 civil partnerships per year in Scotland.

Comprehensive information about civil partnerships, including information on the legal framework and your rights and responsibilities, is available on the Stonewall website. Click here to visit.

The following information is specific to civil partnerships in Scotland

Guide to Civil Partnerships

This plain English guide will answer all your questions about civil partnerships. It is available in nine different languages and large print versions.

A brief overview of civil partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005, with the first registrations in Scotland taking place on 20 December 2005.

Civil partnership is a legal relationship exclusively for same-sex couples, which is distinct from marriage, but which essentially gives same-sex couples the same rights and responisibilities as married couples.

Who can have form civil partnership?

To enter into a civil partnership in Scotland you must be:

  • of the same sex
  • over 16
  • not already married or in a civil partnership
  • not "within the prohibited degrees of relationship"

How do you get a civil partnership in Scotland?

To enter into a civil partnership, couples will need to first contact a local registration office (this does not need to be the nearest one). The office will check that you are eligible to form a civil partnership and you will both need to supply a copy of your birth certificate. If you have previously been married or in a civil partnership you will need to provide additional documentation to prove that you are eligible. If any of these documents are in a language other than English you will also need to provide certified English translations.

There is a required noticed period of fifteen days before your civil partnership can take place. Your intention to form a civil partnership will be made public, but only your names and the date of registration will be shown.

Where can we register our civil partnership?

You can register your civil partnership at the local registration office or anywhere else agreed to by the local registration authority (such as a hotel or your home). The only exception to this is that ceremonies may not take place in religious premises. Your local registration office and the General Register Office for Scotland have a list of places approved for civil partnerships.

The ceremony

There is no legally prescribed form of ceremony to be used when registering civil partnerships in Scotland; however registrars have been given guidance on a suggested form for the ceremony. If you would like a ceremony to form part of the registration then you should speak to you registrar about the arrangements and agree to the form of words to be used. In Scotland, because civil partnerships are secular in nature, the legal formalities (and any ceremony that the registrar agrees to perform) must not contain any religious element; however if you would like to have a religious ceremony or blessing then you may arrange this separately to the legal formalities of registering your civil partnership. You will also need two witnesses, who are over sixteen, to complete the registration.

To find out more about forming a civil partnership, contact your local registration office or visit the website of the General Register Office for Scotland. 


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