National Records of Scotland

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Registering Civil Partnership in Scotland

Registering Civil Partnership in Scotland

Aberdeen lockdown – marriage and civil partnership update

As of 5.00 pm on Wednesday August 5, Aberdeen City has returned to a lockdown situation following a coronavirus outbreak.  The terms of this lockdown will be reviewed every week, and this page updated in line with developments.

New guidance from Scottish Government sets out the restrictions on marriage and civil partnership in and around Aberdeen which have been reintroduced as part of the lockdown.

These restrictions will mean some changes take place to marriage and civil partnership ceremonies from the start of the lockdown.  These are:

  • Indoor marriages and civil partnerships should not take place within the city of Aberdeen
  • Outdoor marriages can continue within the city, as long as the current cap on attendees of 20 people is observed.  (This cap does not include the celebrant/registrar and any interpreter)
  • In line with the reintroduction of a 5-mile travel restriction, parties, witnesses and guests should not travel from outside Aberdeen City to attend a wedding or civil partnership
  • Similarly, no one in Aberdeen should travel beyond the city to attend or participate in a marriage or civil partnership ceremony
  • Receptions or other indoor gatherings following a ceremony remain subject to existing limitations (3 households, as set out in regulations; maximum of 8 persons, as set out in guidance).

If you have any questions about these new lockdown marriage and civil partnership restrictions, please contact NRS at the following address:


Guidance issued by the Registrar General for Scotland on Phase 3 of the Routemap through and out of the COVID-19

1.    In Scotland, all paperwork for marriages and civil partnerships is dealt with by local authority registrars. This is the case whether you intend to have:

  • a civil ceremony (for marriage) 
  • civil registration (for civil partnership) 
  • a religious or belief ceremony or registration.  

National Records of Scotland (NRS) has published a contact list of local authority registrars (528 KB PDF).

2.    This guidance concerns the implications of changes at Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Routemap in relation to marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations.

3.    The Scottish Government has published guidance for couples considering marriage/civil partnership, and for religious and belief celebrants, which can be found on the Scottish Government's website. The Scottish Government’s website has up to date information and support on coronavirus (COVID-19) more widely.

4.    There is published guidance for anyone who has developed coronavirus symptoms, however mild, about getting tested and the need for self-isolation. All of us must continue to minimise the opportunity for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread from one person to another.

Submitting notice of intention to marry or enter a civil partnership

5.    The first step is to submit a notice of intention to marry or enter a civil partnership to your local registration office. Notices can be submitted in person or by post. As in Phase 2 high-priority activities in registration offices will continue, we would encourage people to submit notices by post, to reduce the amount of face to face contact time spent in the registration office.

6.    NRS has published information on the requirements when submitting notices of marriage and notices of civil partnership. The requirements have not changed as a consequence of the pandemic.

The nature of marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations that are available during Phase 3

7.   The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/103, as amended), which are being kept under close review, are in place to tackle Covid-19. The Regulations, amongst other things, implement physical distancing and impose restrictions on public gatherings, events and the operation of business activity.

8.    In phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Routemap through and out of the crisis, special guidance relating to marriage and civil partnership ceremonies (note – NOT receptions; such gatherings remain subject to the above regulations) have been introduced.

9.    In particular, from July 15 this means:

  • The maximum number of people allowed to attend a marriage or civil partnership will be 20, with physical distancing in place and where venues are able to allow that number to attend safely.
  • This figure sets marriage and civil partnership on a different footing from wider gatherings (where household and number restrictions remain); the maximum attendance of 20 people does not include any limitation on numbers of households, and does not include the registrar, celebrant or any interpreter.
  • The maximum figure encompasses all those at the ceremony, including children, carers supporting any attendee, photographers, musicians or any other person employed by the couple, and so on.
  • This figure also applies to both outdoor and indoor ceremonies (where venue capacity allows the ceremony to take place safely)
  • Physical distancing should still be observed. This means that people should stay at least 2 metres apart (unless they are members of the same household).

10.    If you are planning a civil ceremony conducted by a registrar, you should be aware that during Phase 3, not all local authorities will be able to accommodate a ceremony or registration taking place outdoors, or indoors with the maximum number of attendees spelled out above; please contact the registration office to discuss what arrangements the local authority will be able to make. 

11.    If the registrar or the religious or belief celebrant consider that the arrangements at a venue are unsafe – whether because of Covid-19 risks or any other risks – they may refuse to carry out the marriage or civil partnership or may stop the service if circumstances change (for instance, if more attendees than the maximum number arrive during the ceremony).

12.    The Scottish Government and NRS intend that it should be possible for more marriages and civil partnerships to take place as we go through the Routemap out of the crisis.

Dealing with your marriage or civil partnership notice

13.    In line with usual practice, the registrar will process your marriage or civil partnership notice. This includes checking that you are free to marry or enter into a civil partnership. Separately, where you are seeking a civil marriage or civil partnership conducted by the registrar, they will consider carefully whether they are able in the circumstances to provide the service at the venue you propose.

14.    The minimum notice period is 28 clear days. In practice, most couples submit notices well in advance of this, to give sufficient time for all of the arrangements to be in place.

15.    As a consequence of Covid-19, registration offices have been closed to the general public since late March. Over this period, registrars have also been focused primarily on carrying out the remote registration of significant additional numbers of deaths. As birth registrations were also postponed to allow registrars to concentrate on death registration, many registration offices have a back-log of birth registrations to carry out. Registration offices, which vary significantly in lay-out across Scotland, are also being reconfigured to introduce physical distancing.

16.    All of this means that it may take longer than normal for your marriage or civil partnership notice to be processed.

Marriages and civil partnerships where there is a pressing need

17.    The Scottish Government and NRS recognise that, in limited circumstances, there will continue to be a pressing need for couples to enter into a marriage or civil partnership. Examples of pressing need include where one of the parties:

  • is seriously ill
  • is imminently to be posted overseas in the armed forces
  • is resident in Scotland, and has a marriage or civil partnership visa issued by the UK Government which is about to expire.

18.    Please contact your local registration office (528 KB PDF) or the National Records of Scotland at if you believe there is a pressing need for your wedding or civil partnership to proceed to a shorter timescale than the normal notice period. You will be asked to provide details of your circumstances. The Registrar General for Scotland will consider your request carefully and let you know whether your marriage or civil partnership schedule can be completed without the 28 clear days’ notice period having taken place.

Where marriage or civil partnership notices have already been submitted

19.    As explained above, registrars have been unable to process all of the marriage and civil partnership notices submitted before mid-March or in the period since then. However, where you have already submitted your marriage or civil partnership notice, registrars are now processing these. More information on the issue of marriage and civil partnership schedules is outlined below. A marriage or civil partnership cannot take place without a schedule.

20.    If you have decided, as a consequence of the restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19, that you do not wish to proceed with your marriage or civil partnership at the moment, please advise your  local registration office (528 KB PDF) in writing (contact e-mails are available on the list linked to above). Your marriage or civil partnership notice will be cancelled and the marriage or civil partnership notice fee refunded. Please note the refund may take slightly longer than usual to arrange, given other ongoing pressures on registration.

21.    If your notice has been lodged for more than three months and you have decided to postpone the date of the ceremony to a new date your local registrar will, following any required consultation with the Registrar General, advise you whether you will need to submit new notices. 

Visiting the registration office

22.    You may still need to visit a registration office to:

  • Hand in notices of intention to marry or enter a civil partnership.  As indicated above, however, we would recommend that you submit notices by post at the moment, if at all possible, to minimise physical
  • Hand in supporting documents not previously submitted with a notice form (such as a passport or other identity document)
  • Deal with any inquiries arising out of your notices which cannot be dealt with by phone or in writing
  • Collect the marriage or civil partnership schedule, if you are having a religious or belief marriage or civil partnership.  (If your marriage is to be solemnised, or your civil partnership registered, by a civil registrar, the registrar will keep the schedule.)

23.    In line with good practice within newly-opened registration offices, visits to the office will be kept as brief as possible, with physical distancing measures put in place by the local authority. Scottish Government guidance on face covering recommends the use of a face covering in an enclosed environment. This includes registration offices. Be prepared to show identification and be aware that you may be asked to remove your face covering. 

24.    Not all registration offices may be open. Please check your local authority website to see which offices the council is operating during Phase 3, and their hours of operation.

Issuing the marriage or civil partnership schedule

25.    Once the registrar has processed the marriage or civil partnership notice, the registrar will prepare a marriage or civil partnership schedule.

26.    If your marriage is to be solemnised, or your civil partnership registered, by a civil registrar, the registrar will keep the schedule to complete on the day.

27.    If you are having a religious or belief marriage or civil partnership, one of the parties will need to visit the registration office to collect the schedule to be completed on the day. After the marriage or civil partnership has taken place, please return the completed schedule to the registration office by post, again in order to minimise physical contact.

JULY 15, 2020


The attached Registration Privacy Notice (433 KB PDF) tells you what happens to personal information when a life event is registered.

I want to Register a Civil Partnership in Scotland.  How do I go about it?

The Civil Partnership Act 2004, which applies throughout the UK, came into force on 5 December 2005. The following notes will guide you through the necessary legal formalities.

Please note that notice must be given not later than 29 days before the date of the intended registration of the Civil Partnership.

If you are subject to Immigration Control please read the attached information carefully.

There is some paperwork to be completed, and you will need to book a place, date and time.  You may find it useful to download the following documents about our requirements.

Pdf files require Acrobat Reader. Download Acrobat Reader free Get Acrobat Reader.

The RCP1 leaflet should answer most of your questions, but please bear in mind the following points:

  • Always telephone the selected local Registrar before filling in form CP10.
  • If you want to register a Civil Partnership, the Registrar will be able to help you choose a day and time, and tell you what fees you are likely to pay.
  • It will also enable you to confirm what form of payment the Registrar can accept.
  • Both parties intending to register the Civil Partnership should provide the Registrar with a postal address and a contact telephone number (and if possible, a fax number).
  • You must post (not email) the completed forms to arrive normally 10-12 weeks before the date of the intended registration of the Civil Partnership and certainly no later than 29 days before. You must include:
    1. the questionnaire if you are submitting divorce or dissolution documents from outside the United Kingdom;
    2. original or certified copies of documents provided by the issuing authority;
    3. the Declaration of Immigration Status form if you are subject to Immigration Control;
    4. the Witness Details form (if you have chosen your witnesses);
    5. the appropriate payment to the relevant local Registrar (not to the National Records of Scotland).  The registrar will not be able to accept forms without payment.
  • If you intend to submit the completed forms in person please be aware the opening hours of registration offices vary between local authorities and some operate an appointments system. You should check with the relevant local authority before attending an office.
  • The names of the parties registering a civil partnership and the date of the civil partnership registration will be published on a List of Intended Civil Partnerships which will be on public display at the registration office.

If you want a religious or belief civil partnership the civil partnership schedule needs to be collected in person by one of the parties to the civil partnership from the registrar no more than 7 days prior to the date of the civil partnership during office hours. The civil partnership schedule must be returned to the registrar within 3 days of the civil partnership so the civil partnership can be registered. If you cannot take the civil partnership schedule back personally, you can ask someone else to take it for you or you can post it so that it is received by the registrar within that 3 day timescale.

I want to change my Civil Partnership into a Marriage . How do I go about it?

There is some paperwork to be completed, and you will need to book a place, date and time.  You may find it useful to download the following documents.

Are you subject to immigration controls?

If you are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland such as, for example, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States etc., and you intend to visit Scotland to get married or to register a civil partnership, then you will need an entry clearance.  You should check the information which is available on the GOV.UK website.

If you are just visiting Scotland to change your civil partnership registered in Scotland to a marriage, you do not need entry clearance but will need to provide evidence to show that you are in an existing civil partnership when you enter the UK.

If you have any questions, contact the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration Contact Centre (Tel no:  0300 123 2241).

Registrars have a statutory duty to report any marriage they suspect has been registered for the sole purpose of evading statutory immigration controls.

I want to register the Civil Partnership as a “surprise” for my partner.  Is this possible?

No.  By law both parties to the registration of the Civil Partnership are required to submit notice forms to the registrar of the district in which the registration of the Civil Partnership is to take place.  This means that both parties must be aware of this and independently complete and sign the declaration on form CP10  (94 KB PDF) to the effect that the information given is correct.  Failure to give proper notice can result in registration of the Civil Partnership being postponed or prevented from proceeding.

Will we be able to have a ceremony in Scotland and what form will it take?

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 does not set out a legally prescribed form of ceremony to be used at the time of the registration of Civil Partnerships in Scotland. The Registrar General sets out a suggested form of ceremony in guidance to local registrars. So, if you would like a ceremony to form part of the registration of your Civil Partnership, and it is to be registered by a registrar, then you should contact the registrar for the district in which you intend to register your Civil Partnership. She or he will be able to explain to you what arrangements may be made locally. She or he would also be happy to confirm in advance the form of words that might be used during the ceremony.

If your Civil Partnership is to be registered by a religious or belief celebrant, you should discuss arrangements for any ceremony with them.


I want to register a Civil Partnership abroad.  What documents will I need to provide?

You should contact the Consulate/Embassy for the relevant country for advice on what documentation will be required.

I am registering a Civil Partnership abroad and require my birth extract "authenticated". How do I go about this?

An "authentication" can be provided by National Records of Scotland for a fee. Please contact our authentication of extracts section.

Write to:

National Records of Scotland
General Registration Unit
Room 35
New Register House
3 West Register Street


Telephone: 0131 314 4452

They will be glad to help and will advise you of the current fee.

Please note that an "authentication" is not acceptable to every foreign government and some ask for what is called an "apostille" to be written on the back of an extract.  This procedure is governed by international convention and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for adding the "apostille".  If you require an "apostille" please contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Tel: 020 7008 1111).

Can we register our Civil Partnership in places other than a registration office?

Section 93 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 allows 2 people to be registered as civil partners of each other at a registration office or at any other place which they and the local registration authority (i.e. the local Council) agree is to be the place of registration.

However, Section 93 makes it clear that the place must not be in religious premises, that is to say premises which-

  • are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
  • have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.

So, you should contact the registrar for the district where you would wish your Civil Partnership to be registered to discuss what places may be suitable. You can download the Directory of Registrars in Scotland using the link above.

A religious or belief system Civil Partnership may be registered anywhere agreed between you and the approved celebrant.  You should discuss your proposed location with your religious or belief celebrant.

Contact Points for further information:

Please write, phone or visit us at New Register House.

National Records of Scotland
Civil Partnership Section
Room 38
New Register House
3 West Register Street


Telephone: 0131 314 4447