Civil partnerships are legally recognised relationships between 2 people under ACT law.

They are registered under the Domestic Relationships Act 1994 (Domestic Relationships Act) and are considered a domestic partnership for all purposes under ACT law.

In the ACT, marriage, civil unions and civil partnerships have the same rights under ACT laws.

A couple can enter a civil partnership if:

  • you are both adults
  • at least one of you lives in the ACT
  • neither one of you is already:
    • married
    • in a civil union
    • in a civil partnership
  • you aren’t biologically related.

Ceremonies

You can choose to have a ceremony before or after registering your civil partnership, but there is no requirement to have one.

Recognition of civil partnerships

You should seek independent legal advice to decide whether a civil partnership is right for you.

Your civil partnership is recognised under ACT law, however Federal and other state and territory laws may not recognise your partnership in the same manner as the ACT.

Interstate recognition

If you intend to live outside the ACT, you should be aware of any other requirements for verifying your relationship status.

Couples in civil partnerships may need to provide more than their certificate to legally demonstrate their relationship. For example, you may need to show statements for shared bank accounts.

Registrations under the Civil Partnerships Act 2008

If your civil partnership was registered under the repealed Civil Partnerships Act 2008 (the 2008 Act), you don’t need to do anything. ACT law considers these the same as civil partnerships under the Domestic Relationships Act.

If at the time the 2008 Act was repealed:

  • a decision hadn’t been made on your application, your application is considered an application under the Domestic Relationships Act
  • you had given a termination notice, but the termination was yet to occur, then the notice is taken to be a termination notice under the Domestic Relationships Act.

The 2008 Act still applies if:

  • you’d given notice of intention to enter a civil partnership to a civil partnership notary, but the declaration of civil partnership was yet to be made. The declaration, if made, will be under the 2008 Act
  • you had entered a civil partnership under the 2008 Act but it was yet to be registered. The 2008 Act continues to apply for registering the application.

Register your civil partnership

Registering your relationship as a civil partnership involves providing:

  • proof at least one of you lives in the ACT and has for more than 3 months
  • proof of identity
  • evidence that any previous registered relationship has ended. This could include a paperwork proving divorce, termination of a civil partnership, or the death of the other person.

To apply:

  1. Complete an Application to register a civil partnership [DOCX 182KB].
  2. Submit it by:

Prove your ACT residency

To apply for civil partnership registration, you need to prove that at least one of you is an ACT resident. The evidence needs to show the person’s physical address in the ACT.

You will need to provide 2 forms of proof of residency.

View acceptable proof of residency documents.

Prove your identity

To prove your identity, both people need to provide:

  • one form of Primary proof of identity
  • one form of Secondary proof of identity.

View acceptable forms of identification.

Request a civil partnership certificate

You can request a copy of your civil partnership certificate if you:

Apply online

All requests for certificates:

To apply:

  1. Complete the Application for a certificate form.
  2. Upload 3 true certified copies of proof of identity.
  3. Pay the fee and keep a copy of the receipt number.
  4. Show your identification when your certificate arrives by registered post.

View acceptable forms of identification.

Apply for a civil partnership certificate

For information about a fee waiver, email bdm@act.gov.au or call Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

Fee waivers will be assessed against the Birth, Deaths and Marriages Financial Hardship Fee Waiver Policy [PDF 380kB].

Turnaround times

Access Canberra will process your request within 15 business days of receiving all required documents. This timeframe does not include Australia Post delivery times.

Call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 if you don’t receive your certificate within this timeframe.

Terminate your civil partnership

Civil partnerships automatically terminate when either person dies or marries.

You can also apply for termination.

Apply for termination

Either partner can terminate a civil partnership, or it can be applied for jointly.

If you are applying individually, the application is only accepted if:

  • your partner has been personally served with a copy of the notice
  • you’ve completed the statutory declaration in the form.

To apply complete the Application to terminate a civil partnership [DOCX 178KB] then either:

To support your application, you’ll need to provide documentation to prove your identity.

If lodged by one person you need to provide 3 forms of identification, if jointly, both partners need to provide 3 forms of identification.

At least one of the 3 documents needs to be Primary proof of identity.

View acceptable forms of identification.

Wait the 12-month notice period

The civil partnership is terminated 12 months after you give notice unless:

  • you withdraw the termination notice
  • the Supreme Court makes an order that the notice is not effective to terminate the civil partnership
  • the civil partnership has already been terminated by the death or marriage of either person.

Once the civil partnership is terminated, both partners will receive written notice. Let Access Canberra know if your contact details change by calling 13 22 81.