- In 2016 civil union partnership in Italy became legal for same-sex couples. Italy was one of the last European countries to recognise same-sex marriages.
This decision was received with mixed feelings as Italy is a predominantly Catholic country not everyone was celebrating.
This was a major step forward as the government was now giving same-sex couples a legal civil union ceremony.
Not only that but gay couples were now given the same rights and obligations arising from marriage and divorce similar to that of an opposite sex couple.
You can find out more about what rights are covered under the same-sex partnership here.
The civil union partnership was very new ground, it was fairly difficult in the beginning dealing with the Town Halls as no-one knew what was going to be involved in the civil union ceremony nor what sort of legal script would be read out as the legal rights are not the same as a civil wedding. What would the ceremony look like?
Legal requirements for a civil union partnership for UK couple
Up until 31 December 2020, the legal requirements for UK same-sex couples getting married in the Italy, the process is similar to that of the civil ceremony You can find out what is required by clicking here.
Each individual will require a Certificate of No Impediment obtained from their local registry office.
Each individual will require a Statutory Declaration Form which is a bi-lingual document (Italian/English) to be signed and dated in front of a Notary Public.
However what is different is that the couple are required to present the documents to the Town Hall in Italy in person before the civil union ceremony takes place.
First Meeting in Italy
This meeting requires both individuals to be present. The legal documentation will be handed to the official and with the help of an English speaking interpreter you will be required to answer some questions and responses will be recorded in official minutes of the meeting.
The date and time of the actual civil union ceremony will be agreed.
A minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 6 months must pass between the first meeting with the Town Hall officer and the actual date of the ceremony.
It is not necessary for the couple to remain in Italy between the first and second meetings.
The second Meeting in Italy
This will be the date of the civil union ceremony. You will have the same choice as opposite sex couples as to where the ceremony will take place ( I am able to guide you on this).
The town hall official will read the script for the civil union ceremony in Italian which will then be translated in English for the couple by the interpreter. Ring exchange and vows are at the discretion of the town hall.
As with a civil ceremony, the civil union ceremony requires 2 witnesses over the age of 18 years who will sign the register.
Civil union partnership certificate
This is different to the civil wedding certificate for opposite sex couples,which is multilingual. As yet there is no provision for a civil union certificate that it is multilingual.
You will receive the certificate in Italian. The certificate will then require an Apostille stamp (to be obtained in Italy) for authenticating the signature on the document which allows the document to be used as a legal document at home.
The document will also need to be translated into English by a certified translator. A list of translators can be found on the Italian Embassy website.
Important points to remember to prepare for a civil union partnership
You will be required to meet the requirements set out for a civil union ceremony in Italy. It is not possible to by-pass any steps (I have been asked!).
Town Halls in Italy can request additional documentation if your personal circumstances are not straight forward. For example you were previously in a civil union partnership that was dissolved.
Name change documents must be provided if you have changed your name from that issued at birth / on your birth certificate. There must be an audit trail of documents to prove that this is official.
These documents will require translating in to Italian and will require an Apostille stamp issued from the Legalisation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It is important to note that for some nationalities documents issued in their home country will have a shorter validity period (for the UK it is 6 months).
For example in the USA documents are valid for 3 months. This means that a couple living in the USA will be required to do the first meeting and the second meeting (the actual civil union ceremony) within a 3 month time frame.
For long distance international couples this part of the process can be problematic for travel and meeting the requirements.
Where your personal circumstances prevent you from meeting the legal process, or your own country does not recognise civil unions, there is the option of a symbolic ceremony. The symbolic ceremony can be an easy solution to having a ceremony in Italy. You can find out if this is for you here.
I have now arranged civil unions for UK and American couples.
Mark & Dean were married at an intimate ceremony at Villa Fondi captured by Alfonso Longobardi. View the full gallery.