Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 12 March 2014.  A same sex couple will be able to give notice of intention to marry from 16 December 2014.  The current minimum notice period is 15 clear days.  The first same sex marriage ceremonies will therefore take place on 31 December 2014.  More information about getting married is available from the National Records of Scotland.

Couples will be able to have a civil marriage ceremony, or a "religious or belief" marriage ceremony where the religious or belief body has sought and obtained authorisation for its celebrants to solemnise same sex marriage.

It will be possible for civil partners who registered their partnership in Scotland to change their relationship into a marriage.  There are two ways to do this: by having a ceremony (which requires giving notice of intention to marry in the usual way) or in an administrative process.  The administrative process will be available from 16 December 2014.  A couple seeking to change their civil partnership into marriage through the administrative process should contact their local office for the registrations of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland to obtain more information and book an appointment.

The Scottish Government intends to issue a short discussion paper soon on civil partners who registered their civil partnership outside Scotland having a ceremony in Scotland to change their civil partnership to a marriage.

Civil partnership will continue to be available to same-sex couples as before and same-sex couples will also be able to have a religious or belief civil partnership where the religious or belief body has sought and obtained authorisation for its celebrants to register civil partnerships.

The Government intends to consult soon on the future of civil partnerships in Scotland.  The Government has made it clear that existing civil partnerships can remain and there will be no obligation on existing civil partners to change their relationship into a marriage if they do not wish to do so.

Implementation circulars

The Scottish Government has produced four circulars with information about implementation of the Act.  We will produce further circulars and publish further information on this page when it is available.

Consultations

The Government intends to consult next year on qualifying requirements which religious and belief bodies must meet before solemnising marriage and registering civil partnership.  In the meantime, the Government has produced an initial discussion paper.

See also our page on closed consultations.

Prosecution guidance

The Lord Advocate has prepared prosecution guidance which you can view on the website of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

Information about the Bill and the consultations that led up to it.