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Converting a non-Scottish civil partnership to marriage in Scotland

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced same-sex marriage in Scotland, and came into effect on 16th December 2014. The Act also enables same-sex couples in civil partnerships registered in Scotland to convert their civil partnership to a marriage. For more details see pages 18 to 20 of our guide Marriage and Civil Partnership in Scotland.

At present however, same-sex couples in civil partnerships (civil unions, registered partnerships, etc) registered in a country outside Scotland cannot marry in Scotland. Couples in a civil partnership registered in England and Wales can convert that to a marriage at any registry office in England or Wales. But couples in civil partnerships from other countries may not be able to change to marriage in the country they originally registered their partnership. Their civil partnership will continue to be recognised in Scotland as a civil partnership, but they are currently unable to change it to a marriage in Scotland.

The Scottish Government have promised to change the law to allow same-sex couples in non-Scottish civil partnerships to marry in Scotland. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 includes a power (in section 9) allowing the Scottish Government to do that using secondary legislation. Secondary legislation is much easier and quicker to do than a full bill in the Scottish Parliament. We know that the Scottish Government have been working on the details, and have been consulting with other countries about international recognition of the resulting marriages.

At present, we are expecting that a draft of the secondary legislation may be considered by the Scottish Government fairly early in 2015, and then introduced in the Scottish Parliament in the spring. It would then take around two months for the Parliament to consider the legislation, so it could come into effect in the early summer of 2015.

We will keep this page updated as we hear more. If you are in a civil partnership registered outside Scotland, and you would like to marry in Scotland, we would like to hear from you! Please email us and we will let you have a detailed update.