Civil Partnership: Step by Step
Follow our step-by-step guide to forming a civil partnership in Cambridgeshire.
Update: 25/03/2020 All notice and ceremony/ formation bookings have been suspended until further notice. Click here for more details.
1. Legal Requirements
You can form a civil partnership in England or Wales if you’re:
16 or over
not already married or in a civil partnership
not closely related
If you’re under 18
You need permission from your parents or guardians to form a civil partnership in England or Wales.
If you or your partner is a foreign national
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. You and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.
You must apply for a visa to form a civil partnership in the UK if you:
are from outside the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
are not a British citizen
do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK
The visa or permit you need depends on where your partner is from and whether you want to live in the UK after your formation.
You can apply for:
a civil partnership visitor visa - if you’re not going to live in the UK and will stay less than 6 months
a family visa - if you want to live permanently in the UK and your partner is a British citizen, settled in the UK, has refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
a family permit - if your partner is not a British citizen but from an EU, EEA country or Switzerland
If you do not have a civil partnership visitor visa or family visa
You can still give notice of your intention to get married or form a civil partnership but the immigration authorities at the Home Office will be told.
The Home Office might:
ask questions about you and your relationship - if this happens you may need to wait up to 70 days before forming a civil partnership
decide not to approve your notice - if this happens you cannot form a civil partnership in the UK
2. Where do you want to have your formation?
You must decide where to have your formation before ‘giving notice’.
To give notice, you’ll sign a legal statement at your local register office saying you intend to form a civil partnership. This must include details of the final venue for your formation.
You must make your formation within 12 months of ‘giving notice’.
Choose the type of formation
You can choose to have either a religious formation or a civil formation:
You can have a civil formation at:
A Council Ceremony Office. We offer The Brooke Room (Cambridge), The Keats Room (Huntingdon), The Tennyson Room (Ely) or The Wordsworth Room (March) on selected days from Monday to Saturday. Details can be found on our Ceremony Rooms page.
A venue approved by the local council, for example a stately home or hotel. A list of approved venues for ceremonies in Cambridgeshire can be found on our Venues page. We recommend that, before you pay a deposit to the venue you book your formation with us to ensure that your preferred date and time are available.
Statutory ceremony in a Registration Room. Only the couple and two witnesses can attend. These ceremonies take place in Cambridge on a Tuesday at 9.30am and 10.00am. There is currently a waiting list of at least 10 months.
A religious formation can take place at any religious building registered for formations.
Your minister will tell you if you need to book a registrar to attend. If you are advised that a registrar will be required please contact us as soon as possible. You will both need to complete the legal preliminaries by giving notice of intention to form a civil partnership at a registration office, Please contact us using our general enquiry form for advice about giving notice.
Forming a civil partnership outside Cambridgeshire
If you live in Cambridgeshire and intend to form a civil partnership outside of the County (but still within England or Wales) you can book your civil partnership notice online. UPDATE: 25/03/2020. We regret that notice booking has been suspended.
If you’re a British national forming a civil partnership abroad (this includes Scotland and Northern Ireland), you might need certain documents from the UK government, for example a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI).
Once you've established that you are required to produce a Certificate of No Impediment you can book your civil partnership notice online. UPDATE: 25/03/2020. We regret that notice booking has been suspended.
3. Giving notice to form a civil partnership
You must sign a legal statement at your local register office to say you intend to form a civil partnership. This is known as ‘giving notice’.
You must decide where to make your formation before ‘giving notice’.
You must give notice at least 29 days before your formation. For example, if you give notice on 1 May, the earliest date you can form your civil partnership is 30 May.
You must make your formation within 12 months of the date of ‘giving notice’.
Where to give notice
If you are both British or EEA Nationals and both live in Cambridgeshire you need to make an appointment to give notice at one of our offices. You and your partner MUST both have lived in Cambridgeshire for the past 7 CLEAR days immediately prior to your appointment.
Please Note: The date of your arrival and the date of your departure are not included in the calculation of your 7 clear days' notice. i.e. If you arrive on Day One you will not be able to give notice until Day Nine of your residence.
You and your partner will need to give notice separately if you live in different registration districts. You do not have to do this on the same day.
If you live or your partner live outside Cambridgeshire
You need to book your notice of marriage appointment with your local register office. If you live outside England and Wales, contact us using our general enquiry form for advice about giving notice.
If you or your partner is from outside the EU, EEA or from Switzerland
You need to give notice together at a designated register office, even if you live in different districts. The immigration authorities at the Home Office will be told. If this happens you may need to wait up to 70 days before getting married.
If you wish to book a notice of marriage at our designated register office (Cambridge), please complete the general enquiry form. You may find an appointment faster at another designated register office.
You must decide where to have your marriage before ‘giving notice’.
4. Documents you'll need to give notice
All documents must be ORIGINAL and not photocopies or printed from online services. If not in English, a translation must be provided signed by a third party with their contact details. We cannot take your notice if you fail to produce the documents as listed. There is a fee to correct a notice if, once signed, it is found to be incorrect, so please check carefully before signing.
You will need to bring the following to your appointment:
details of the venue for your formation
a CURRENT valid passport (for any country), If you do not have a current valid passport and are:
British. Bring your FULL birth certificate. Please note: If you were born on or after 1 January 1983 we will also need to see your Mother's birth certificate.
European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss National. Bring your valid national identity card issued by your country.
Non-European Economic Area (EEA) National. Bring your valid biometric immigration document.
proof of any name changes (for example, a copy of a deed poll)
proof of your current address in England or Wales. This MUST be one of the following:
valid UK driving licence
Council tax bill for the current year
gas, water or electricity bill dated within 3 months of your notice date
bank or building society statement within 1 month of your notice date
current tenancy agreement or mortgage statement dated within 12 months of your notice date
letter from the Owner or Proprietor of the address where you are residing confirming that you have resided at that address for at least 7 CLEAR days immediately prior to the date of your notice appointment. This letter MUST state that the person providing the letter is the Owner or Proprietor of the property, their name and address and MUST be signed by them.
If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before
You will also need to bring one of the following ORIGINAL documents:
a decree absolute or final dissolution of civil partnership order (for some counties, such as, but not limited to Italy, Lithuania, Portugal or Spain we will ALSO need to see the record of the civil transcription of the divorce made in the civil register). If you are not using the name shown on your decree absolute or civil partnership dissolution document you will also need to produce your marriage/ civil partnership certificate .
the death certificate of your former partner if you were still married/in a civil partnership to them at the time of their death. If you are not mentioned on the certificate, you will also need to produce your marriage or civil partnership certificate.
If your divorce, annulment or dissolution was granted outside of the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man you will need to pay a fee of £50 for the local register office to check your documents or £75 if the General Register Office needs to check them.
Please note that clearance by General Register Office may not be given with the 28 waiting period following the date of your notice.
A foreign divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country where it was granted. If the divorce document is not in English, a certified translation into English is required. This MUST include the name and address of the person who provided the translation.
If you or your partner are under military orders from a Non-European Economic Area (EEA) serving on a base in England or Wales
You will also need to bring:
Your military orders
If you or your partner are under 18
You will also need to bring:
written consent of a parent or guardian by completing and signing this form. The document must be brought to the appointment.
If you or your partner is from outside the EU, EEA or from Switzerland and do not hold Right of Abode or Indefinite Leave to Remain
You will also need to bring:
a passport sized photo for each of you (even if only one of you is from outside the EU, EEA or from Switzerland)
proof of your current immigration status (for example, your visa). If this is not in your current passport we will also need to see your expired passport showing your immigration status. You and your partner may also be required to pay an additional fee for referral to The Home Office.
a translation of any documents that are not in English
On booking your notice appointment, you will pay an administration fee of £35 per person, which if the notice is taken successfully will be converted into your notice fee.
5. Plan your day
You can tailor several parts of the formation by adding your own words, music and readings.
Please read the outlines below before completing your checklist:
Once you've read the documents above please return your ceremony checklist online for council ceremony rooms and approved venues a month before your ceremony.
The checklist helps us to know what your formation will include, who is doing readings, who is holding the rings, so we are able to provide a professional formation for you and your guests to enjoy.
Please only use confetti outside buildings and preferably use biodegradable confetti. Please check the parking arrangements for your venue or our offices.
Music - If you are holding your ceremony in a Council Ceremony room music should be provided either on a CD or on a digital device. Cambridge and Huntingdon offices have a sound bar that can be accessed by a guest operating a digital device and Ely office has Bluetooth capability.
If you are forming a civil partnership in a Council Ceremony room please arrive about 15 minutes before your formation is due to begin. If you are forming a civil partnership in an Approved Premises we would recommend that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the formation is due to begin.
The registration staff will see you both, together or separately, before the ceremony begins to confirm and update where necessary the details given at notice. This is to ensure that the schedule entry is correct on the day.
You need to provide two witnesses who can be relatives or friends, ideally over 18, and must be able to speak and understand English. They must be present throughout the formation and, if outside, must be within the approved structure throughout the formation.
Your photographer (or nominated person) can take non-flash photographs throughout the formation and your guests will be invited to photograph at some point during the formation. If having a video, the videographer needs to be in a static position and able to stop filming when the schedule is being signed, as will your photographer.
Relating to notices and bookings
I am giving notice of formation but my decree absolute only shows my married name and I have reverted to my maiden name. Is this ok?
You will need to bring your marriage certificate to show the link between the surnames; alternatively, if you have a child bring their birth certificate as it will show your maiden name.
I have lost my decree absolute (marriage) or dissolution order (civil partnership). Can I still give notice?
You cannot give notice without producing an original copy of the decree absolute or dissolution order. Copies can be obtained from the county court where your divorce was heard.
Will the cost of my formation increase after I’ve booked and paid?
Fees are reviewed by the council each April so the price for future years may increase.
My partner does not speak English. Can you provide a translator/interpreter?
Unfortunately we are unable to provide this service. If either of you does not understand or speak English, you need to provide an interpreter/translator to ensure you understand what you are agreeing, both when giving notice and at your formation. The interpreter must sign as a witness to the formation. If you have any other difficulties with speech or language, please let us know in advance.
Relating to the formation
Do I have to provide witnesses?
It is your responsibility to provide two witnesses. There is no lower age limit for witnesses, but they must be old enough to understand what is taking place and to be able to testify to what has taken place should this be necessary. They must be able to speak and understand English. They must be present throughout the ceremony. Registration staff cannot act as witnesses.
Do I need to bring ID on the day of my formation?
Generally, no. If you change your name by Deed Poll between giving notice and the formation, you will need to bring an original copy of that Deed Poll. Witnesses do not need ID.
How do I provide music for my formation?
If your formation is in a council ceremony room in Cambridge, Ely or Huntingdon, you can either provide a CD of your chosen music for our staff to play or ask a guest to use Bluetooth on our sound bar. The ceremony room at March has a Bluetooth connection on a sound bar. Approved venues will make their own arrangements with you directly.
What time should I arrive for my formation?
If your formation is in a council ceremony room, please arrive no less than fifteen minutes before the start time.
If your formation is at one of our approved venues, please arrive at least 30 minutes before your formation is due to begin.
You will both need to meet with the registrars prior to your formation. We offer the opportunity to do this as a couple or separately.
Can I bring fresh flowers for my formation at a council ceremony room?
If you wish to bring small flower decorations, you can place them in the room at the start of the ceremony. The arrangements will need to be removed at the end of your formation. We cannot arrange access to the room in advance. Please remember that there is limited space in the room.
Can you ask our guests not to post anything on social media until we have posted first?
If you have any specific requests about photography or social media during the ceremony, you can ask the registrar on the day to announce them just before it starts. We would also suggest that you make your guests aware of this request in advance by including it on the invitation or order of service.
We have been asked by a film company to have our formation filmed. Is this ok with you?
You need to ask the film company to get in touch with us first as there are legal agreements to be considered which must be checked in advance. If they just turn up on the day, they will not be allowed to film.
How do I sign the civil partnership schedule?
You will need to sign the schedule with your usual signature using the name you have before the ceremony takes place or ‘the name you entered the room with.’
Can I form my civil partnership outside?
You can form your civil partnership outside from 1 March to 31 October dependent on weather conditions. The Registrar will determine whether or not the formation can proceed outdoors (as agreed in our Terms and Conditions). The formation must take place under a fixed structure which is licensed for a formation. A list of the venues which have outdoor licences can be found on the Approved Venue page.
Can our guests throw confetti?
You can throw confetti outside of the ceremony room. We would ask that you use bio degradable confetti.
Can our dog attend our formation?
Unfortunately, this is not possible. We don’t allow any animals to be in the ceremony room apart from formally registered assistance animals.