Converting Civil Partnerships to Marriage FAQs

File:Gaymarriage.jpgIt's been over 8 months now since we celebrated the first gay weddings in England and Wales. March 29th might be a way behind us now, but it isn't the only landmark that we'll be celebrating in 2014. 

From tomorrow (December 10th 2014), gay couples in England and Wales will be able convert their civil partnerships to marriage. We've gathered together a set of FAQs to help explain exactly what you can expect during the process.

When can we convert our civil partnership to marriage?

Conversions can take place anytime after Wednesday December 10th 2014. If you haven't already, you'll need to book an appointment with a registrar.

How much will a conversion cost?

Conversions will cost £45. However, if  your civil partnership took place before March 29th 2014 then you'll have until December 9th 2015 to convert it to marriage for free

Why is it free for some couples?

Civil partnerships have been legal in the UK since 2005, but same-sex marriage has only been legal since March 2014. The Government is addressing the fact that the law withheld the option of marriage from gay couples at a time when many would, had the choice been available, have chosen to become marital partners. It is unfair, therefore, to expect couples, at least initially, to have to pay the same fee. 

For couples who qualify, how long will will the fee be waived?

Couples will have one year to convert their civil partnerships. After December 9th 2015, the fee will be universal for everyone.

What happens at a conversion?

Couples will need to decide which type of conversion they would like as there are 2 options.

1. A simple conversion is a low-key affair between you, your partner and a registrar. You'll sign a document and agree that you want to become marital partners and that's it.


2. You can build a ceremony around the signing of the document. One that will, most likely, more closely resemble a wedding than step 1. A registrar will attend your venue and complete the conversion before your gathered family and friends. 

The same venue rules apply for option 2 as they would for any wedding venue but bear in mind that certain religious venues are not legally obligated to host same-sex weddings or conversions. 

If we opt for a 2-stage conversion, then is that free? 

No, it isn't. However, you will still qualify for a £45 reduction on the final price. 

How do I book a conversion?

You'll need to book an appointment at a register office and complete a declaration with the following details:

  • Proof of name and date of birth 
Current valid passport, birth certificate, UK photo driving licence or EEA identity card.

  • Proof of address  
A utility bill issued in the last quarter, very recent bank statement, or a council tax bill, 

  • Your civil partnership certificate
You can find a list of UK register offices here.

Do we need to convert to marriage in the same district that we had our civil partnership?

No. If your civil partnership, for example, happened in Birmingham, then you would be free to convert to marriage at any register office in England and Wales.

Do I have to convert my civil partnership to a wedding?

Not if you don't want to. The Government currently has no plans to scrap civil partnerships, and if you're happy as you are then there's no reason to change. However, if you qualify for a free conversion then it's certainly worth discussing it with your partner. 

What about us? We live in Scotland

Gay marriage will be legal in Scotland from December 31st 2015. Couples currently in a civil partnership will be able to covert to marriage from December 16th 2014 and there will be no conversion fee for the first year.

What about us? We live in Northern Ireland

There is a widespread movement for change in Northern Ireland but there is currently no plan to legalise same-sex marriage in the country. 

What can we do? Our civil partnership took place abroad

If your civil partnership took place at a British consulate or on an armed forces base, then you'll be able to convert as normal. If it took place anywhere else overseas, then you will be unable to convert to marriage.

How will we prove that we're married?

You'll receive a marriage certificate that will be backdated to the day your civil partnership took place. There'll also be an additional date with your conversion on, too. Be sure to order your certificate on the day however, for a cheaper price. 

If you have any questions about converting your civil partnership, then we'll do our best to find an answer. Drop us a line via our social media networks or through the contact form on this site.

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