What are the rules for who can form a civil partnership?
Changing your name and title
There is no legal requirement for either partner to change their surname upon entering into a civil partnership, though most couples will probably want to share the same surname.
They can choose to either:
- continue using their own surnames
- one partner can take the other partner’s surname*
- both partners can change their surnames, by Deed Poll, to double‐barrel their surnames or to change to a new surname altogether. Deed Poll can also be used to change one partner’s surname to a middle name when they take on the other partner’s surname.
*The civil partnership certificate provides the necessary documentary evidence of the change of surname. By sending the civil partnership certificate to all concerned, the person’s documents and records will be changed to show the new surname.
If a female couple wish to change their title from Ms or Miss to Mrs., this can also be done by Deed Poll.
Two people are only eligible to register as civil partners of each other if:
- they are of the same sex,
- neither of them is already a civil partner or lawfully married,
- they are over 16 years of age (with parental consent) or are over 18 years of age.
Arranging your civil partnership registration
A civil partnership can be formed in England and Wales at a register office or at any other approved venue, including hotels, stately homes and other places of interest.
To form a civil partnership you must first give notice of your intention to become civil partners. This means that you are legally required go to your nearest register office and inform them of your wish to register your civil partnership. Your details are then made public by the registration authority for a period of fifteen days. Your notice is valid for 12 months from that date and you can arrange your ceremony or simply sign the registration schedule anytime during that year.
The civil partnership notice states the following details for each person:
- name and surname
- date of birth
- condition (marital or civil partnership status)
- place of formation
You can find out the current costs for registering your civil partnership at:
Arranging a ceremony
As civil partnership registration is a completely secular process, just like the civil marriage ceremony, you are prevented from having any religious service take place at the time of your registration.
A ceremony is not automatically provided when you register. Couples who wish to arrange for a ceremony at the time of registration should discuss this with the registrar when the initial arrangements are made. If you fancy walking down the aisle to the tune of a favourite piece of music you’ll need to make sure it has no religious connotations as your ceremony has to be free of any mention of religion.
You will have the opportunity to say some words before you sign the registration schedule and you’ll need to bring with you at least two other people as witnesses. If you did want to have a more spiritual ceremony, you could always arrange a separate humanist or other type of ceremony which would have special meaning to you. Couples who marry in civil weddings have the same limitations and often choose to have a humanist wedding ceremony as well as their civil wedding service.