The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

Changes to the law allowing same sex couples to marry have now come into effect.

Main provisions of the act

  • Allow same sex couples to marry in a civil ceremony.
  • Allow same sex couples to marry in a religious ceremony where the religious organisation has “opted in” to conduct such ceremonies and the minister of religion agrees.
  • Enable civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage, if they wish.
  • Enable married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.

The status of civil partnerships remains unchanged. They will still be available to same sex couples. The act does not make civil partnership available to opposite sex couples. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 will be up for review later in 2014.

Registration officers are unable to advise couples on whether to choose a marriage or civil partnership. This is a personal choice. Same sex couples may wish to seek legal advice, or consult an advisory group such as Stonewall, or the Government Equalities Office.

Comparison of civil partnership and marriage

Converting a civil partnership into a marriage

Couples will be able to convert their existing civil partnership into a marriage, if they wish, but the exact process is still subject to Parliamentary approval. The following guidelines have been issued:

  • From 10 December 2014 onwards the couple will need to attend any Register Office for an appointment, and will need to prove evidence of their identity and of the civil partnership registration.
  • The conversion takes place when the couple sign a declaration in the Register Office to confirm that they have not dissolved their civil partnership and that they both wish to convert their civil partnership to a marriage.
  • There is no ceremony attached to the conversion. The couple do not go through a marriage ceremony.
  • The conversion will be registered and a certificate of conversion issued.
  • The couple may choose to have a celebration or non statutory ceremony after the conversion, in a location of their choosing.



The Government has now announced the following for conversions:

  • No fee for a year for those who registered civil partnerships before they had the opportunity to marry – i.e. those before 29 March 2014. This will apply from 10 December 2014 to 9 December 2015.
  • Anyone who registered a civil partnership after 29 March 2014, or registers one in the future and subsequently wants to convert to a marriage, will be required to pay the full fee.
  • From 10 December 2015, all same sex couples will be required to pay the full fee for conversion, including those who registered civil partnerships before 29 March 2014.
  • The full fee for conversion at a Register Office will be set at £45.00.

Richmond upon Thames Register Office cannot take bookings for these appointments yet until further details have been confirmed.

Updated: 10 January 2018