Information about the legal requirements for civil partnerships and how to arrange a ceremony.

A civil partnership is a commitment, formed by two people of the same sex, giving legal recognition of their relationship.

We offer two kinds of ceremonies - a simple registration of your partnership for a statutory fee, or an enhanced ceremony.

Converting a civil partnership to marriage

From 29 March 2014, the law allows marriage ceremonies for same sex couples. The law also allows couples in a civil partnership to convert this to a marriage.

See the frequently asked questions below for more details.

Giving legal notice of marriage or civil partnership

By law, you must give more than 28 days’ formal notice before you can register a marriage or civil partnership. Notices are valid for one year.

From 1 November 2017 there will be an additional fee payable for consideration of divorce / civil partnership dissolution documents obtained outside the British Isles.

The ceremony

Your marriage or civil partnership ceremony booking is accepted on the condition that:

  • no legal impediment to the marriage or civil partnership exists and legal preliminaries are completed as required; and
  • any foreign divorce/dissolution papers are accepted by the registrar general where applicable.

A civil partnership registration can take place in any of our registration offices or approved venues, including stately homes and hotels. Registration is available at any time in our offices, although the ceremony fee varies depending on the day and size of room.

The ceremony is personalised. However, by law, it must be entirely non-religious so cannot contain any religious readings or music.

More details about ceremonies are below:

We do not allow animals or wildlife (with the exception of guide dogs or assistance animals) at ceremonies in our registration offices.

If an approved venue allows animals or wildlife at their ceremony, the venue is entirely responsible for the health and safety of guests and any housekeeping issues that arise. We must be informed of these arrangements before the ceremony day.

We regret you cannot put bows or chair covers on as the room may be booked for other ceremonies following yours.

Cancellation charge

If you need to cancel your ceremony, please give notice of cancellation in writing via email or letter.

The deposit will be refunded if you cancel within 14 days of booking. If you cancel after 14 days, the deposit will be retained to cover administration costs.

Cancellation notice given Refund
More than three months before ceremony 100 per cent of ceremony fee (minus the deposit)
Between three months and 28 days before ceremony 75 per cent of ceremony fee (minus the deposit)
Less than 28 days before ceremony, or failure to cancel No refund

Cancellation of bookings by us

Your booking may be cancelled by us if you have not given your legal notice of intention to marry or form a civil partnership within the dates specified on your provisional booking notification. If there is a genuine reason for delay please contact us.

Cancellation or change of booking by couple or venue

Cancellations or changes to date or time must be given, in writing, to the registration office where you made your booking. We will try to accommodate any changes to date or venue within North Yorkshire. However, this may not always be possible.

Notices of marriage or civil partnership are only valid for the venue stated on them. If you change venue, you will need to give new notices at least 28 days before the ceremony. Further notice fees will be payable.

You may wish to add additional words to your ceremony. These must be agreed with the superintendent registrar (or their deputy) no later than seven days prior to your ceremony. Any additional words or music must not be religious.

You are able to meet a member of the registration team prior to your ceremony. However, we cannot guarantee the same member of staff will attend your ceremony.

The guidance on confetti varies for each office; please contact the relevant office for further details.

There is no dress code although we do expect the ceremony to be dignified. Members of the armed forces are welcome to wear their uniform.

A deposit is payable when you book your ceremony. If you cancel within 14 days of booking, the deposit will be refunded. If you cancel after 14 days, the deposit will be retained to cover administration charges. We reserve the right to charge an additional fee if you later change the date or venue.

Notice fees are payable when you give your legal notice of intention to marry or form a civil partnership; these are non-refundable.

Ceremony fees are requested when you give notice to us, or when we receive confirmation that you have given notice elsewhere. Fees are due no earlier than 12 months and normally no later than three months before to the ceremony. For ceremonies booked less than three months in advance, ceremony fees are payable within seven days of giving notice.

From 1 November 2017 there will be an additional fee payable for consideration of divorce / civil partnership dissolution documents obtained outside the British Isles.

A full list of fees is on the registration service fees page

It is not possible to pay your fees in instalments.

You can provide your own flowers, but silk flowers are provided. Many brides put their bouquet next to the register when having their picture taken. We ask that all flower arrangements you bring are removed at the end of your ceremony as the room may be booked for another ceremony party.

The time booked for the ceremony is the time it will start. If the ceremony starts late, we may amend it to reduce its duration.

If the ceremony does not start within 20 minutes of the scheduled time and we are not responsible for the delay, we may defer or cancel the ceremony. The fee will not be refunded if a ceremony is cancelled under these circumstances. 

We may charge an additional fee if the ceremony takes place later than planned.

All our registration offices can play CDs. However, music used must be non-religious.

Some of our offices will ask for your music in advance, clearly marked with the date and names of the couple. Others ask for it to be taken on the day. Please check with the registration office where your ceremony is taking place.

If you are using other formats, such as MP3, we strongly advise the recording is checked before the day on the equipment it will be played on.

If your ceremony is in one of our approved venues, you should check directly with the venue about the type of music equipment they provide or arrangement for live music.

The law requires that the legal part of a ceremony take place in an approved location holding a licence for marriage and civil partnership. These must take place within a permanent, immovable structure, with a fixed roof and solid floor. The structure needs to offer cover to the main party, which includes the couple, two registrars and both witnesses.

We license a number of venues with locations that are very nearly outside, with the guests outside and only the main party under cover. In these venues both the legal and the celebratory elements can take place in one ceremony.

In some venues where there is no suitable outside structure or where couples have a specific location in mind, we can offer an 'inside out' ceremony. The legal proceedings take place in a licensed room in the venue and a celebratory ceremony takes place (before or after the proceedings) outside.

What can go wrong?

The great British summer being what it is, you should make plans for holding your ceremony in an alternative location if the weather is bad or extreme conditions on the day. The registrars will not be able to wait until the weather improves. They will have other ceremonies to attend so will need to leave punctually.

Please remember the comfort of all your guests, as they will be outside longer than you are. Please advise them to dress appropriately and think about your older guests. Your guests need to be comfortable and be able to hear the ceremony, especially if you are under cover and they are not.

Ceremonies in freestanding structures

A booking is accepted for an outside structure on condition that:

  • the ceremony takes place during daylight hours; and
  • the venue must agree and also reserve an alternative ceremony room for you in case it needs to be conducted indoors.

Photographs are usually available both within and outside the venue. An official photographer will be able to take a limited number of photos during the ceremony with prior arrangement with the registrar. Photographers must not cause any unnecessary delays to the start of the ceremony. You will receive our code of conduct for photographers when booking your ceremony. We ask that you pass this on to your photographer.

 Please also see these notes for photography at civil partnership ceremonies. (pdf / 231 KB)

You can Skype or record the ceremony but we ask that the couple make all necessary arrangements.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have two credible witnesses at the ceremony. We require that witnesses signing the register are age 16 or over.

If an interpreter is needed, you should arrange for them to attend. The interpreter must be one of the two witnesses who signs the register.

Frequently asked questions

To do this your civil partnership must have been registered in England or Wales. The law does not apply to those registered in Scotland or any country outside the United Kingdom.

There are two options available:

Standard (one stage) procedure

This requires couples to attend any registration office in England or Wales together. You will need to make an appointment and show evidence of your name, date of birth, address and civil partnership certificate to complete a declaration and sign the document. Once the document has been signed the marriage is recorded and a certificate will be issued.

There is no ceremony at the standard procedure. However, later you may decide to have a celebratory ceremony that would be totally separate from the above. We will be happy to discuss and arrange this for you.

Two stage procedure

This includes a ceremony as part of the process but still require couples to attend any registration office in England or Wales together. You will need to make an appointment and show evidence of your name, date of birth, address and civil partnership certificate in order to complete the declaration. However, you will not sign the declaration at that time. The signing takes place at the second stage of the procedure - the celebratory ceremony.

The signing of the declaration may take place at a range of venues, such as:

  • approved venues for marriages or civil partnerships anywhere in England or Wales;
  • a registration service office anywhere in England or Wales;
  • religious buildings registered for the marriage of same sex couples where a ceremony under Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1946 is to immediately follow the conversion into marriage; or
  • premises where a ceremony according to the Jewish faith or the Society of Friends is to immediately follow the conversion.

Couples who wish to sign their conversion declaration at a registration office in a different district from where the declaration has been given can do so under the two stage procedure.

The signing of the declaration must take place within 12 months of making the declaration, otherwise it will expire. It will not be recorded as marriage until or unless the declaration is signed, and a marriage certificate cannot be issued.

Fees

Please see our registration service fees page for details of charges.

Anyone can buy an extract of the record of the civil partnership, which contains all the information in the record, apart from the addresses recorded for the couple.  Applicants must provide the names of both parties and the date and place of the ceremony.

A certified copy of the record is available, providing the person applying can supply the addresses of the couple, as well as the information requested above.

The cheapest ceremony option is in the working office of the Superintendent Registrar available at Harrogate register office. This is available on the second Tuesday of every month (mornings only).

The ceremony party is just the couple, the registrars and two witnesses. The ceremony has no enhancements such as readings or music and wording is kept to the legal wording required to enable you to be married.

Please see our fees page for current costs.

If you are from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland and subject to immigration control, you will need a visa to come to the UK to give notice and get married or form a civil partnership here. You can find more information about this process from the GOV.UK website.

In this situation, both parties must give notice in person at one of the specially designated registration offices in England and Wales. The nearest offices to North Yorkshire are in Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

You can apply for a passport in your new name up to three months before the ceremony.

The form should be returned to the minister of religion or registration office that is performing your ceremony.

If a person is terminally ill and cannot attend somewhere legally registered for marriages or civil partnerships we may be able to carry out a ceremony under a special licence.

How to apply

No residential qualification is necessary for either party, but the partner of the terminally ill person must give notice of marriage or civil partnership at the registration office in the district that this person is being cared for.

Medical evidence of the sick person's condition and their capacity to understand the nature and purpose of the ceremony will be required.

Both parties must be legally free to marry or sign the civil partnership register and normal evidence of name, age and marital/civil partnered status will be required.

The law requires that the legal part of a ceremony take place in an approved location holding a licence for marriage and civil partnership. These must take place within a permanent, immovable structure, with a fixed roof and solid floor. The structure needs to offer cover to the main party, which includes the couple, two registrars and both witnesses.

We license a number of venues with locations that are very nearly outside, with the guests outside and only the main party under cover. In these venues both the legal and the celebratory elements can take place in one ceremony.

In some venues where there is no suitable outside structure or where couples have a specific location in mind, we can offer an 'inside out' ceremony. The legal proceedings take place in a licensed room in the venue and a celebratory ceremony takes place (before or after the proceedings) outside.

What can go wrong?

The great British summer being what it is, you should make plans for holding your ceremony in an alternative location if the weather is bad or extreme conditions on the day. The registrars will not be able to wait until the weather improves. They will have other ceremonies to attend so will need to leave punctually.

Please remember the comfort of all your guests, as they will be outside longer than you are. Please advise them to dress appropriately and think about your older guests. Your guests need to be comfortable and be able to hear the ceremony, especially if you are under cover and they are not.

If you would like your ceremony to take place outside, either in a licensed structure or as part of an 'inside out' event, you must agree this with the venue.

These ceremonies do not give any legal status or rights. The following documents need to be produced to book a ceremony:

  • the birth certificate of the person being named; and/or
  • the marriage or civil partnership certificate for couples renewing their vows.

Yes, you can order a copy of a civil partnership certificate from our copy certificates page.

Personal information which you are required by law to provide for a registration will be kept by the relevant local registration officer. The local registration officer to whom you supply information will also send a copy of this information to the General Register Office for England and Wales so that a central record of all registrations can be maintained.

A copy of any register entry will be provided to any applicant, provided that they supply enough information to identify the entry concerned and pay the appropriate fee. The copy may only be issued in the form of a paper certified copy (a "certificate"). An application for a certificate may be made to either the local register office or to the General Register Office.

The General Register Office makes indexes, for the central record of registrations, publicly available in order to help members of the public identify the registration they might need. The register office also makes a local index available for this purpose.

The local register office may also choose to make the information contained within local indexes available online. This will be done in order to help members of the public identify the registration they might need. Any information placed online must be done in manner which is compliant with the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act.

Additionally, confidential information for statistical purposes which you are required by law to give to the local registration officer, and other information provided voluntarily, will be passed to the UK Statistics Authority for the preparation and supply of statistics.

As well as providing certificates, local registration officers and the General Register Office may make registration information available to other organisations, for the following purposes:

  1. Statistical or research purposes;
  2. Administrative purposes by official bodies e.g. ensuring their records are up to date; and
  3. Fraud prevention or detection, immigration and passport purposes.

For further information on data held by the Registrar General see the GOV.UK  HM Passport Office privacy policy web page.

Staff at this local registration office will be able to provide further information on data held by the registration service.

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