Civil partnership in Scotland

Last updated: 6 October 2020

Civil partnership during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Civil partnership registration

You can register a civil partnership inside or outside at a public venue such as a hotel, register office or a place of worship.

You can also register a civil partnership outside in a private place such as a garden outside your home.

The rules for both 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 registering the civil partnership or staff at a venue
  • everyone should follow physical distancing rules
  • there's no limit on how many households can attend

Civil partnership inside a private place

You cannot register a civil partnership inside a private place such as your home or hired holiday accommodation.

This is unless you cannot register the civil partnership in a public place. This could be because:

  • one of the couple is seriously ill
  • a disability stops one of them registering the civil partnership somewhere else

In this situation, the number of people there should be the minimum. This means:

  • the couple
  • the person registering the civil partnership
  • the 2 witnesses
  • any interpreter who is needed

These limits only apply to the civil partnership registration.

Civil partnership reception

Different rules apply to gatherings before or after the registration. For example, a reception:

  • up to 20 people can be there as long as it takes place in a regulated venue such as a hotel or restaurant
  • if it takes place somewhere else such as someone's home or garden the limits on household meetings apply

You can get further guidance on civil partnerships during coronavirus on gov.scot.

You need to also check if there are local restrictions where you're registering the partnership or where you're having the reception or party. These rules apply over the general rules for civil partnership.

Future changes to civil partnerships in Scotland

You can read more about future changes to marriages and civil partnerships during coronavirus on gov.scot.

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 cannot have a civil partnership with)
  • of the same sex
  • capable of understanding what a civil partnership means and of consenting to a civil partnership

Mixed sex civil partnership

A mixed sex civil partnership is one between 2 people of a different sex.

You cannot have a mixed sex civil partnership in Scotland yet.

The Scottish Parliament passed a new law which will make civil partnership available to mixed sex couples in the future.

We do not have a date for this right now. We'll update this page when we know the date.

You can read more about the future of mixed sex civil partnership on gov.scot.

You cannot legally have a civil partnership with any of the following relatives:

  • parent
  • child
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • sibling
  • aunt or uncle
  • niece or nephew
  • great-grandparent
  • great-grandchild
  • 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 registration

There are 2 different types of civil partnership registration you can have in Scotland:

  • civil registration - can take place in a registrar office or anywhere agreed with the registrar, except religious premises
  • religious or belief registration - can take place anywhere by someone approved to register a civil partnership

Check with the religious or belief body that they'll register your civil partnership.

There's 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'll be charged a fee to register your civil partnership - check with your registrar office how much this will be.

You need to return your forms and any other documents needed to the registrar at least 29 days before your civil partnership registration.

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 do not live in the UK

Get in touch with your registrar as early as possible if you cannot get any of these documents. You may be able to use other documents.

Your immigration status

You'll need to complete a Declaration of Status of Immigration form if you're not from:

Religious or belief registration

If you're having a religious or belief civil partnership registration you'll also need to collect the 'civil partnership schedule'.

A civil partnership schedule is a form you sign during your registration.

You can collect this from 7 days before you register your civil partnership. 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 registration.

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're having a civil registration the registrar will bring your civil partnership schedule to your wedding. They'll also return it to the registrar's office for you.

Forms

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.

Further information

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
Edinburgh
EH1 3YT

Email: civilpartnership@nrscotland.gov.uk

Phone: 0131 314 4447

Find out about call charges on the GOV.UK website.