The legal paperwork you need to perform a civil partnership ceremony abroad can seem confusing. There is a great deal of information online about where civil partnerships legally recognised here in the UK can take place overseas. A valid civil partnership location must appear on Schedule 20 of the Civil Partnership Act, or fit other criteria outlined in the Civil Partnership Act.

Wedding Ring in Sand on Beach

Recognised Countries and States for a Civil Partnership*

    • Andorra
    • Australia – Tasmania
    • Belgium
    • Canada
    • Denmark
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Iceland
    • Luxembourg
    • Netherlands
    • New Zealand
    • Norway
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • United States – the states of…
      • California
      • Connecticut
      • Maine
      • Massachusetts
      • New Jersey
      • Vermont

Each country and state has its own interpretation of a civil partnership (marriage, civil union etc), but as a rule, if a ceremony is considered legal in the country where performed it is assumed to be legal in the UK.

Certificate of No Impediment

In some countries you will need to provide a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI). This certificate confirms there are no objections to your proposed civil partnership. In most cases, if you live in the UK you can obtain a CNI from your local register office. If you live overseas you should contact your nearest British Embassy or consulate who can provide you with details on how to apply for a CNI.

Following your civil partnership you may also need to exchange the UK CNI for a Consular CNI at the British embassy. The UK Legislation Office may need to legalise the CNI and other documents too. You will receive a certificate of civil partnership from the country you hold the ceremony in, and can deposit your civil partnership documents with the General Register Office as an official record, if you wish.

The local British Embassy’s website has specific information, and the marriage and civil partnerships abroad page also has useful advice.

For peace of mind and clarity, you should always contact a lawyer in the UK and the local authorities abroad.

*Correct August 2012

Guest post by Lester Gethings

Image from Flickr by Darek Gavey (CC By 2.0 License)