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Our online forms (customer account / Do it online) system will not be available between 10.00pm on Tuesday 22 June and 6.00am on Wednesday 23 June. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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.


There is no longer a legal limit on the number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships or weddings, but restriction on numbers continue to be determined by how many people a venue can safely accommodate with social distancing.

To meet social distancing guidance and to reduce the risk in spread of Covid-19, the number of people who can attend a wedding and civil partnership at our register offices continues to be restricted until further notice. To find out more on the limits at our register offices, please contact our ceremony team on 03000 266 000 or email

From no earlier than 19 July 2021, there will be no legal limits placed on any life events.

The government will review whether restrictions will be eased two weeks in advance of this date. Covid-19 safety measures which include social distancing and the wearing of face coverings will still be in place until further notice to ensure everyone's safety.

Please bear in mind that each step continues to be reviewed and may still affect a couple's plans. You can contact our ceremony team on 03000 266 000 or email for any queries you may have. However, our phone lines continue to be very busy so please bear with us. 

Full guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships can be found at 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
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