Regulations have been introduced to enable couples who have had a Civil Partnership to convert that to a Marriage without having to go through a full Marriage ceremony. The regualtions will come into effect from 7 December.

It's the last piece of the jigsaw following on from legislation in 2019 which meant that same sex couples could get married in Northern Ireland from February of this year.

The conversion converts one legal relationship into another, ie Once a civil partnership is converted into a marriage or a marriage converted into a civil partnership the original civil partnership or marriage will end and the couple is treated as having been married or in a civil partnership since the date of the original event.

Celebrating the announcement of same sex marriage legislation last October in Marcus Square in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Celebrating the announcement of same sex marriage legislation in Marcus Square, Newry last October. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

You can convert your same sex civil partnership into a marriage at a registry office, an approved venue or at a place in Northern Ireland by an officiant who is authorised to conduct same sex marriage.

To convert you should contact the local registration office in the district you wish the conversion of your relationship to take place. The registrar will be able to make an appointment for you for a date from 7 December 2020 onwards.

There will be no cost for the signing of the conversion declaration in the first year (7 December 2020 to 6 December 2021).

A marriage or civil partnership certificate costs £8.00.

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has welcomed the introduction of the regulations.

The General Register Office within the Department of Finance is responsible for the administration of marriage and civil partnership law. Welcoming the regulations which will come into effect from 7 December, Minister Murphy said: “This is a huge step forward for marriage equality and I want to pay tribute to all those who campaigned so hard for this day. 

“There are over 1,300 same sex Civil Partnerships. From December these couples will have the right to convert their Civil Partnership to a Marriage. 

“This important legislation provides citizens with equal rights.”

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