The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into operation on 5 December 2005 and enables a same-sex couple to register as the civil partners of each other. The Civil Partnership Act applies to all residents within the UK and Northern Ireland. Registering under this Act offers gay and lesbian couples similar legal benefits to heterosexual married couples.
A civil partnership can be registered in England and Wales in a register office or in approved premises. In order to register a civil partnership you must first give notice. The notices are publicised by the registration authority for a period of 15 days. They include:
- name and surname
- date of birth
- condition (marital or civil partnership status)
- place of formation
After giving notice, you must normally wait fifteen clear days before the civil partnership can be registered. Once given, your notice is valid for 12 months.
Simply making an appointment to go into your local registry office and sign the register fulfils the legal requirements, however many same-sex couples see this as a wonderful time to show their love and commitment to each other publicly. Many couples choose a ceremony personalised with readings and music, commitment vows and a celebration for family and friends.