Civil partnerships during coronavirus (COVID-19)
You can have a civil partnership indoors or outdoors. The rules are:
- no more than 20 people should be there (including any children)
- this includes the couple, witnesses, guests and anyone employed by the couple, such as a photographer
- it does not include the person doing the ceremony or staff at a venue such as hospitality staff
- everyone should follow physical distancing rules
- there's no limit on how many households can attend
These limits only apply to the civil partnership ceremony. Different limits apply to gatherings before or after the ceremony. For example, a reception or party.
You can get further guidance on civil partnerships during coronavirus on gov.scot.
Future changes to civil partnerships in Scotland
Who can have a civil partnership
You can have a civil partnership in Scotland if you're:
- aged 16 or over
- not married or in a civil partnership with someone else
- not closely related (see below for a list of relatives you can't have a civil partnership with)
- of the same sex
- capable of understanding what a civil partnership means and of consenting to a civil partnership
You can't legally have a civil partnership with any of the following relatives:
- aunt or uncle
- niece or nephew
- adopted parent or former adoptive parent
- adopted child or former adopted child
Relatives you can have a civil partnership with
The relatives you can have a civil partnership with are:
- child of former wife or husband
- child of former civil partner
- former spouse or civil partner of parent
- former spouse or civil partner of grandparent
- grandchild of former spouse or former civil partner
To do this you must:
- be aged 21 or over
- not have lived in the same house as the person when you were aged 18 or younger
- not have been treated as a child of their family
Different types of civil partnership ceremony
There are 2 different types of civil partnership ceremony you can have in Scotland:
- civil ceremony - can take place in a registrar office or anywhere agreed with the registrar, except religious premises
- religious or belief ceremony - can take place anywhere by someone approved to conduct a ceremony, for example a celebrant
Check with the religious or belief body that they will allow you to have a civil partnership.
There is a different process if you want to change a civil partnership to a marriage.
How to have a civil partnership
You both need to complete a Civil Partnership Notice form (tells the local registrar you want to enter a civil partnership).
You need to return your forms and any other documents needed to the registrar at least 29 days before your civil partnership ceremony.
They can be returned to the registrar in the area you're having your civil partnership either in person or by post.
You need to provide certain documents with your civil partnership notice form.
- your birth certificate
- evidence of where you live, for example a bank statement with your address
- your divorce certificate if you or your partner were previously married
- your dissolution certificate if you or your partner were previously in a civil partnership
- a death certificate if a previous spouse (husband or wife) or civil partner has died
- your passport or another document that provides evidence of your nationality
- your certificate that you are free to marry under the law of your own country if you don't live in the UK
Get in touch with your registrar as early as possible if you can't get any of these documents. You may be able to use other documents.
Your immigration status
You will need to complete a Declaration of Status of Immigration form if you're not from:
- the UK
- the European Union
Religious or belief ceremonies
If you're having a religious or belief ceremony you'll also need to collect the 'civil partnership schedule'.
A civil partnership schedule is a form you sign during your ceremony.
You can collect this from 7 days before your ceremony. You or your partner will need to collect it in person.
The civil partnership schedule needs to be returned to the registrar within 3 days of the ceremony.
Once this has been handed in your civil partnership will be registered. You can then order and pay for a civil partnership certificate.
If you have any problems with the online forms, you can get them from a registration office. You can find a list of all the registrars in Scotland on the National Records of Scotland website.
There's more information about civil partnerships in Scotland on the National Records of Scotland website.
If you're not sure what you need to do, you can contact:
National Records of Scotland
Marriage/Civil Partnership Section Room 38
New Register House
3 West Register Street
Telephone: 0131 314 4447
Find out about call charges on the GOV.UK website.