Civil partnerships

What is civil partnership?

Civil partnership allows same sex couples across the UK to have their partnership legally recognised. Any couple that registers a civil partnership will have the same rights as a married couple in areas such as tax, social security, inheritance and workplace benefits.

Who can register?

You can register if you are:

  • Two people who are of the same sex aged 16 or over (with consent if under 18)
  • Not already married or in a civil partnership
  • Meet relationship criteria

How do we register?

Both partners will need to give legal notice of their intended partnership to the council in which they have been resident for the seven days prior to giving the notice. Then, after 29 days (or 42 days in some cases should one of you be a non-EEA national without the relevant visa for marriage) you can register your civil partnership by signing a civil partnership schedule in front of the registrar and two witnesses. Your notices can only be given once you have decided on and booked the venue at which your ceremony is to take place.

Both partners will need to produce passports as evidence of identity and nationality and some proof of residence in the form of utility bills, council tax bill, bank statement or any other form of official documentation. If either party has been through a marriage or other partnership previously they would also have to produce evidence of how this ended. You will also have to pay fees to give notice and to register.

You must ensure that you have booked both the venue for your ceremony and registrars before placing your notices of civil partnership.  Once you have placed your notices of civil partnership, you cannot change the venue without having to place fresh notices, attend at the register office and pay the appropriate fee again.

Where can the partnership be registered?

The partnership can be formed in any council register office, irrespective of the residence of the couple, or at approved premises that have previously been approved for marriages. 

Please click on the Tower Hamlets civil ceremonies brochure below to find out more about arranging a civil ceremony in Tower Hamlets. Tower Hamlets has a fantastic selection of venues licensed to hold ceremonies and catering for all tastes and budgets.

Civil ceremonies at TH register

What form will the registration take?

There is no requirement for couples to say particular contractual words as part of the registration process, nor will there be any legal necessity for any form of ceremony. The minimum requirement will be the couple attending before an authorised civil partnership officer and signing the registration in the presence of two witnesses.

What if one partner is not an UK or EU citizen?

If one or both of the partners are subject to immigration control it will be necessary for both partners to attend together a designated register office to give the required notice. Further information can be obtained from your local Register Office.

What if I am already part of a partnership which took place overseas?

If you are already legally registered as a couple abroad you may not need to register again to be legally recognised as civil partners in the UK. Please contact the register office for advice.

How will this affect my state or local government pension?

Civil partners currently have most of the same state pension rights as husbands and you will be treated the same as husbands and wives after 2010, when the treatment of men and women is to be equalised. For further information you should contact your employer or The Pension Service (part of the Department for Work and Pensions) on 0845 6060265.

Will my tax be affected?

Civil partners will be treated in the same way as a married couple for all tax purposes. Contact your tax office for more information.

Will my civil partnership relationship affect my tax credit?

The income of a civil partner or a cohabiting same-sex partner will be taken into account when calculating entitlement to income related benefits (e.g. income support) and tax credits. This means you will be treated the same as a married or a cohabiting couple.

How do I change my name on my employment records?

As with marriage, there is no legal requirement to change your surname. This can be done by informing the appropriate departments of the name(s) you wish to be known by. (You may be required to provide a copy of your extract for their records).

Can my civil partner be my next of kin?


Provisional bookings

A non-refundable booking fee of £50 for all provisional bookings will be charged.

If you wish to enquire about provisionally booking a date for your ceremony or would like to enquire about registrar availability please get in touch.

Make an enquiry

We will respond as soon as possible but you should allow five working days during busy periods.

Fees for a ceremony in the Vestry or other licensed wedding venues can be found on the Register Office fees page.

We do not endorse any particular venue and you should contact individual venues for further details and charges.

Notices of marriage and civil partnership are by appointment only.  Please telephone us on 020 7364 7880 to book an appointment.  Your appointment will be rescheduled if you are more than five minutes late.