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Get a civil union licence

Before you get a civil union, you need to apply for a licence. A licence confirms it’s legal for you to have a civil union. It costs $150.

What you need to know

  • You need to arrange your licence at least 3 working days before you have a civil union.
  • It expires after 3 months.
  • The ceremony is an additional cost which depends on the kind of ceremony you have.
  • Only one of you needs to complete the application, but you need information about both of you.

Apply

Apply using the paper form

1. Start the form

Notice of intended civil union form BDM 360 (PDF 157KB)

Notice of intended civil union form BDM 360 — accessible alternative (TXT 20KB)

2. Sign the form in front of a Registrar of Marriages

You or your partner needs to take the notice to your local Registrar of Marriages in person so they can witness you signing the declaration. The address is on the form.

If you live in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch, you can book a time online to go in and sign the form.

Births, Deaths and Marriages offices

After you have signed the declaration, you have to wait until you get the licence before having your civil union ceremony. It takes 3 days to get the licence. If you’re using a celebrant you may have to wait longer until they get the licence by mail or courier.

Signing the declaration is not your civil union ceremony.

You will need to declare:

  • you’re legally allowed to have a civil union
  • you have been truthful on your civil union licence form
  • you have got consent from a Family Court judge if you’re 16 or 17.

3. Pay the fee

If you’re in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch, pay the fee when you make the declaration in front of the Registrar of Marriages.

If you’re anywhere else in NZ, when you make your declaration, you will be given information about how to post your payment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages office in Wellington.

If you arrive in NZ less than 3 working days before the ceremony

1. Start the form

Notice of intended civil union where both parties are ordinarily resident outside NZ form BDM 358 (PDF 229KB)

Notice of intended civil union where both parties are ordinarily resident outside NZ form BDM 358 — accessible alternative (TXT 26KB)

You need to sign the declaration in front of an authorised person. Check the form for a list of people who can witness your declaration.

2. Pay the fee

Send it to Births, Deaths and Marriages. Include an international bank draft in NZ dollars to pay the fee. Make it payable to the Department of Internal Affairs.

3. When you arrive in NZ

You will need to visit a registry office to sign a declaration before your ceremony. There’s a list of addresses on the application form.

Cost

Personalised ceremony

The licence costs $150.

Celebrants set their own fees, on top of the cost of the licence.

Who can get it

Most people can get a civil union licence. Same-sex civil unions are legal in NZ.

You do not need to be an NZ citizen. Visitors to NZ can marry or have a civil union here.

Who cannot legally have a civil union

You cannot legally have a civil union if you’re:

  • already married or in a civil union, unless you’re changing your relationship with the same person
  • closely related by birth, marriage or adoption
  • under 16.

Civil Union Act 2004

If you’re 16 or 17

You need consent from a Family Court Judge before you can have a civil union.

Get consent to marry if you’re aged 16 or 17

If you get consent, you will be given a Court Order. You need to attach the Court Order to your marriage licence application form and post it to Births, Deaths and Marriages.

What happens after you apply for a licence

If you’re using celebrant

You will be sent the licence, and 2 copies of the “Copy of particulars of civil union” — a form with all the details of the people getting the civil union.

Give all 3 of these documents to your celebrant before your ceremony.

Tip: If you have a back-up venue.

Put your back-up venue in your application. You can only have the ceremony in the places you have put on the application.

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