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Civil partnerships

1. Civil partnerships

For the latest information on Same Sex Marriage please visit gov.uk.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gives same-sex couples the ability to form a legal partnership which gives the same rights and benefits as married couples.

After you have given your notice to form a Civil Partnership you can choose to have a ceremony or just visit the register office to sign the schedule.  If you choose not to have a ceremony you will still need to make an appointment to see a Registrar and both of you will need to attend the Register Office in person with two witnesses.  If you decide to have a ceremony, we will work with you to ensure this is personal and special to you both.  You can view our Celebrate in Buckinghamshire brochure, which provides a wealth of useful information.

You can form your partnership in our ceremony rooms in Aylesbury, Beaconsfield and High Wycombe, or in one of the licensed venues of your choice. In Buckinghamshire, we have over seventy licensed venues to choose from, providing beautiful and stunning settings for your civil ceremony. Many licensed venues will also, if you wish, arrange your reception for you.

Some venues offer outside ceremonies in garden structures. These ceremonies can be held between 1st March and 31st October only. However, if you plan an outside ceremony, and there is bad weather, the ceremony will need to be held indoors. Find out more about outdoor ceremonies.

Combined Ceremonies

If you wish, you can combine your partnership ceremony with a celebratory ceremony at a venue of your choice, a private residence or an outdoor location. Please note that terms and conditions apply. Charges can be found on our Fees page.  Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Once you have chosen your venue and made a provisional booking, you need to contact us to check a Registrar is available on the day and time you want. It is essential you do this before making any other arrangements. Bookings can be taken up to two years ahead of time.

To contact us please email at ceremonies@buckscc.gov.uk with a brief description of your enquiry or request with your telephone contact details, specifying if you wish to book a ceremony in either the Beaconsfield or Aylesbury area, and we will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Alternatively, call – Aylesbury area 01296 382481 or Beaconsfield area 01494 475092, however, please be aware our phone lines can be very busy.

In Buckinghamshire we offer partnership ceremonies from 10am. Our Registrars will attend on any day of the week but please note we have restrictions for some Bank Holidays. For ceremonies held at a licensed venue between 5.30pm and 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays there is an additional fee of £100.

If you need to arrange an urgent wedding or civil partnership for a life limiting medical reason and our offices are closed, please call 07949 720672 and if necessary leave a message.  Please note this number is only available Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays between 9am and 5pm.  All other bookings or enquiries should be made on Monday - Friday between 9am - 5pm to the office nearest your wedding venue, either Aylesbury (01296) 382481 or Beaconsfield (01494) 475092.  If you leave a message about a booking which is not related to the above reason, we will contact you on the next normal working day.

Notice of Civil Partnership

Before you can form your partnership there are certain formalities which are required by law.

You must both attend the register office in the district in which you live to inform them of your intention to form your partnership. This is called “Giving Notice”. A notice of civil partnership may be given up to a year in advance of the formation.

Giving notice means declaring that you are both free to form a civil partnership and you will be required to provide certain documents. A notice of civil partnership may be given up to a year in advance of the wedding day. The Giving Notice of Civil Partnership page gives you all the information you need on giving notice.

Fees

Information on costs and fees

2. Foreign nationals

This information is for people who are subject to immigration control and would like to marry or have a civil partnership in the UK.

You need to:

  • hold entry clearance as a fiancé/e, partner or marriage visitor, or
  • be a person with settled status in the UK (e.g. indefinite leave to remain), or
  • hold a Home Office certificate of approval

If you are subject to immigration control, you need to give notice to marry or have a civil partnership in a designated register office. You must attend the register office together.

For detailed information about this, visit the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality website, or contact your local register office who will advise you of the location of designated register offices.

3. Your civil partnership ceremony

Whilst there is no legal requirement to have a ceremony you may like to consider one.

Please complete the online civil partnership options form three months before the date of your ceremony. This form helps us to plan and deliver your individual ceremony and allows you to make choices.

Civil partnerships options form

If you are hoping to hold your ceremony outdoors you will also need to complete our outside ceremony agreement form.

The registrar will guide you through your ceremony, which will last about 20 minutes.  Please ensure you and your guests arrive at least 30 minutes before your ceremony is due to start.

The registrar will see you and your partner (separately or together) before the ceremony to check your personal details that were given when you gave your notice of civil partnership.

Witnesses

You need two witnesses, they can be friends or relatives. They need to be old enough to understand the ceremony and their role. They attend the ceremony and sign the schedule.

Words

Before you sign the schedule you may chose to recite the words printed in the civil partnership schedule.  If you would like to make extra vows to each other we can give you some examples or you can write your own. Suggestions are included on the options form. Extra vows must not be religious or have any connection with a religious marriage ceremony. The registrar needs to see them at least seven days before the ceremony.

Music

Each register office can provide music, or you can use music that has a special meaning for you and your partner. The music cannot be religious. The music can be live or on CD and can be played:

  • whilst your guests are arriving
  • as you walk into the ceremony room
  • when you are signing the schedule
  • as you lead your guests from the room

Poetry and readings

If you wish, you or one of your guests could give a reading. You can select a poem or section of prose or you could write your own. There is a huge selection of poetry and other readings available for you to choose from and by adding these into your ceremony you can make it more personal and meaningful to you both. Whatever you decide, please remember that we need to check any readings before your ceremony. There is room on the Civil Partnership Options Form for you to tell us which reading you have chosen.

For civil ceremonies, readings are not permitted to have any religious content or association.

Signing the schedule

During the ceremony, you and your partner will be asked to sign the schedule. This will then be signed by your witnesses.  Any certificates you have requested will then be sent to you in the post.

Photos and videos

It is your choice when photographs can be taken. Normally only an official or designated photographer takes photographs during the ceremony. If you would like someone to video your ceremony, the registrar will let them know the best place to stand.

Confetti

Confetti is allowed outside the ceremony rooms. Some venues have restrictions on throwing confetti, please check with your venue.

Please ask your guests to turn off mobile phones before the ceremony starts.  Food and drink is not allowed in any of the ceremony rooms.

4. Converting a civil partnership into a marriage

Couples who have formed a civil partnership are now able to convert their partnership to a marriage.

There is no obligation to convert your partnership to a marriage. This is purely a personal choice.  

How to convert your civil partnership

This can be done in one or two stages, depending on whether you want a simple, one-stage conversion or a two-stage process.

One-stage conversion

a)    You will need to make an appointment to attend a Register Office and make a declaration. For your appointment, you will need to bring the following documents, which must be originals, not photocopies:

  • Your civil partnership certificate
  • Proof of name and date of birth:
    Passports should be used, but we can accept two other documents, one of which should be a birth certificate together with another document such as a driving licence.
  • Proof of address:
    A council tax bill, utility bill or bank statement dated within the past three months
  • If you have changed your name:
    Deed poll documents if appropriate

b)    You will then sign a declaration in the office to confirm that you have not dissolved your civil partnership and you both wish to convert your partnership into a marriage. The conversion will be registered and you will be offered marriage certificates for a small fee.

Two-stage conversion

You will need to make a declaration as in a) above.  You then have the option of signing your declaration separately in one of our ceremony rooms or at a licensed venue. If you wish, the signing can be followed by a ceremony.  The Ceremonies paragraph below gives more details.

Register Offices

You can go to any Register Office in England or Wales, it doesn’t need to be near to where you live or the one where your civil partnership was registered. In Buckinghamshire, you will need to attend  Buckinghamshire Register Office in Aylesbury or Beaconsfield Old Town Registration Office. For legal reasons, Civil Partnership conversions cannot take place in the ceremony rooms at our Register Offices, nor in other licensed venues.

Civil partnership conversions are held by appointment only and can be booked between 10.00 and 15.00 Monday - Friday.

Ceremonies

It is not necessary to have a ceremony, however, we understand that you may wish to mark this as a special point in your relationship.  

After the declaration has been made in a Register Office, couples have the choice of completing the conversion in front of family and friends. This can take place in one of our ceremony rooms at our Aylesbury or Beaconsfield Old Town offices or at one of our licensed venues.

This is a non-statutory or celebratory ceremony and it will be led by a registrar. You will be able to make vows to each other, choose music and tailor the ceremony to your requirements.

Fees for ceremonies can be found in the Celebratory Ceremonies section of our fees page.

Cost

Costs for certificates and celebratory ceremonies are detailed on our fees page.

Civil partnerships formed abroad

Only civil partnerships formed in England and Wales, a British consulate or a Ministry of Defence site can be converted to a marriage.  We cannot convert civil partnerships formed in other countries.

Call us for information or to book an appointment

We are happy to answer your questions and accept provisional bookings now.  Please call us on 01296 382481 or 01494 475092.  Our offices are open Monday to Friday 9 to 4.30pm

5. Giving notice of civil partnership

To give notice of civil partnership, you will need to make an appointment at the register office in the district in which you live. If you live in Buckinghamshire please call either Aylesbury area on 01296 382481 or Beaconsfield area on 01494 475092.

If you live outside Buckinghamshire and would like details of your local office, you can find this on-line or via your local Council.

Fees

You will each pay a non-refundable booking fee when reserving the date and time of your appointment. Once you attend, the booking fee will be transferred across to pay for your ‘Notice’ in full. You can change the date or time of your appointment up until one week beforehand.

Any changes within one week of your appointment are subject to an amendment fee. If you cancel your appointment at any time or do not attend your appointment, you will lose your booking fee and will have to pay again.

What we need to know

When you give notice, the Registrar will ask questions about you and your partner. You and your partner will be asked for information including your full names and addresses, date of birth, occupation and nationality.

We will ask you about your previous marital status.  We will also need to know the name of the venue for your forthcoming civil partnership.

Documents you need to provide

It is very important that you bring the following documents with you when you give notice.

These need to be provided for each partner and must be originals rather than photocopies. This is a legal requirement.

Failure to provide these documents may result in your notice not being taken and the loss of your fee. If you are in any doubt about which documents to bring, please contact us for advice.

Proof of identity

  • Valid UK passport 

or

British Citizens only:

  • Full birth certificate (with parents’ names) plus one other form of ID such as a driving licence showing your current name.  If you were born after 1 January 1983 you also need evidence showing the British nationality of your parents.

Non British Citizens only:

  • A valid EEA passport/ID card/Home Office travel document.

Plus

Proof of address

You will need one of the following for each partner:

  • Utility bill - not older than three months.
  • Bank/Building Society statement - not older than one month (on line statements will need to be stamped by the branch).
  • Most recent Council Tax bill.
  • Valid UK driving licence showing your current address.
  • Letter signed by someone who is able to confirm your place and period of residence and proof that the person lives there.

Proof that you are free to marry, if applicable

If either of you has been married or formed a civil partnership before, you will need documents to show that your last relationship has legally ended.

  • Original decree absolute or dissolution with court stamp, with English translation if applicable.

or

  • Death certificate and possibly marriage or civil partnershipcertificate linking your names.

Proof of any other names used, if applicable

  • Deed Poll or Change of Name Deed

Consent Form

If you are under the age of 18, please ring us.

Timings

You and your partner must have lived in England or Wales for nine days - one day travelling, seven days residency, we can then take notice on the ninth day. It does not matter if either of you then moves to a different address after you have given notice.

Once you have given notice the soonest you can form your partnership is after 28 days and the notice is valid for one year. 

Foreign Nationals

If you are not a British or EEA citizen, please get in contact with us.