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To report a weather emergency, or if you are vulnerable and need help, call 03000 26 0000.

See our Disruptions, closures and warnings page for current road, school and library closures.

Due to the amount of previously postponed weddings which are now taking place we are extremely busy at the moment. It may take longer than usual for us to respond to you but please bear with us.

Arranging a civil partnership


There are lots of things to think about when planning your civil partnership. To help, we have outlined everything you need to do on this page.

virus

There is no longer a legal limit on the number of attendees at civil partnerships or weddings.

However, to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver our service safely, the number of people who can attend a wedding and civil partnership at our register offices continues to be restricted and our staff will continue to maintain social distancing until further notice. We are also encouraging guests to continue to wear face coverings unless exempt.

You can contact our ceremony team on 03000 266 000 or email theceremonyteam@durham.gov.uk for any queries you may have. However, our phone lines continue to be very busy so please bear with us. 

Further guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships can be found at Gov.uk: guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships.

A civil partnership is a legal relationship which can be registered by two people (of the same sex or of the opposite sex). Registering a civil partnership will give your relationship legal recognition. This will give you added legal rights, as well as responsibilities.

You and your partner can register a civil partnership if you are:

  • 16 or over
  • free to form a civil partnership (not already a civil partner or married)
  • not closely related

Coronavirus update - changes to weddings and civil partnerships

  • The ceremony can not take place if either the groom or the bride has symptoms. Guests with symptoms are not allowed to attend.
  • Only weddings and civil partnerships, conducted by one of our registrars or within a religious building and conducted by a minister, may take place.
  • The ceremony must be in line with government guidance on social distancing.
  • Up to a maximum of six people are allowed at a ceremony (depending on venue). It has been clarified that this maximum number includes all those attending, including the couple, witnesses and guests. However anyone working, for example officiants, photographers, security, staff employed by the venue, third-party suppliers or catering staff are not included.
  • Only one photographer per wedding is allowed and he/she will count as one of your guests. 
  • Ceremonies must be kept as short as possible.
  • Someone can give the bride away but best men and women are not permitted.
  • You will have to sanitize your hands before and after signing the register.
  • Rings must remain on the table in the ceremony room until required.
  • No live music is allowed but we can play a pre recorded piece of music or song.
  • There is no opportunity for group photos within the ceremony rooms.
  • Seating plans of our venues can be provided.

What you need to do

Give notice of your intention to form a civil partnership

You can give notice of your intent to form a civil partnership at Aykley Heads House register office or Bishop Auckland register office.

See our Give your notice of marriage or civil partnership page for advice on how to give notice and what documents you'll need to provide.

Plan your ceremony

We have developed a civil partnership ceremony to complement the civil partnership registration that can be held in the ceremony rooms at Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland and Aykley Heads House (Durham) Register Offices. See our Where to get married page.

A non-refundable £40 booking fee applies to all new ceremony bookings. Changes to ceremony bookings at these venues will result in another £40 booking fee becoming payable.

This fee needs to be paid to the superintendent registrar at least six weeks before the ceremony is due to take place.

Alternatively, ceremonies can also be held at any of the Licensed venues for marriages and civil partnerships.

Converting your civil partnership into a marriage

Contact us to speak to our ceremony coordination team for full details of how to convert your civil partnership into a marriage.

Contact us
Register Office - Aykley Heads House
03000 266 000
Our address is:
  • Aykley Heads
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5TS

Register Office - Bishop Auckland
03000 266 000
Our address is:
  • Cockton House
  • 35 Cockton Hill Road
  • Bishop Auckland
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL14 6HS