Civil partnership – Opposite sex couples

Civil partnerships were introduced in December 2005 to allow same sex couples to form a union with similar rights to marriage. In March 2014 marriage law was changed to allow same sex couples to marry with the option of a civil partnership remaining in place. This means that same sex couples currently have two options when forming a union, marriage or civil partnership, while opposite sex couples only have the option of marriage.

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act received Royal Assent on 26 March 2019. This act will extend  the option of forming a civil partnership to opposite sex couples.  The regulations are currently being drafted by the Government Equalities Office. While the exact implementation date is not yet confirmed the deadline for the regulations to come into force is 31 December 2019.

Before a couple can marry / form a civil partnership they must give notice of their intention. The standard notice period is 28 days. If the opposite sex civil partnership regulations come into force on 31 December 2019 the earliest date a partnership could be formed under the standard procedure is 29 January 2020.

31 December 2019 is the deadline for the regulations to be in force, it is possible the implementation date could be earlier.  An earlier implementation would mean that notice could be given ahead of 31 December 2019 and a civil partnership formed earlier than 29 January 2020.

Information on the difference between civil partnership and marriage as it currently applies can be found here.


This page will be updated as information is released.