Marriages & Relationships

Relationship register

Provided at least one partner lives in NSW, you can apply to register a relationship in NSW.

Apply by po​st, or in person to: register a relationship​​

Cover image: application for relationship certificatesThe NSW Relationships register commenced operation 1 July 2010. It provides legal recognition for a couple, regardless of their sex, by registration of the relationship.

Eligibility

Adults who are in a relationship as a couple, regardless of sex, can apply for registration of their relationship, provided at least one of them lives in NSW. Adults in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships are eligible to register.

A relationship cannot be registered if either person is:

  • under 18 years old
  • married
  • in another registered relationship
  • in a relationship as a couple with another person, or
  • if they are related by family.

A couple does not have to live together to be eligible to register their relationship.

Same Sex Marriages

  • You are eligible to register your relationship in NSW if you have been married overseas in a same sex marriage.

How to apply

To apply, partners make a statutory declaration stating they:

  • wish to register the relationship,
  • are in a relationship as a couple with the other person,
  • are not married or in a relationship as a couple with anyone else and that they are not related to each other by family,
  • are not in another registered relationship whether in NSW or in another Australian jurisdiction, and
  • do or do not reside in NSW (as at least one member of the couple must reside in NSW).

In applying, proof of identity is required for each person along with payment of a fee.

Couples who apply don't have to provide any further documentary evidence or proof of their relationship. However, it should be noted that it is an offence to wilfully make a false statutory declaration knowing its contents to be untrue or to provide false and misleading information in such a context. Penalties of up seven years imprisonment may be imposed for making a false declaration for material gain.

Once an application is made, there is a 28-day cooling off period in which either party can withdraw the application. After that time, the Registrar will register the relationship and issue the couple with a certificate recording the event if the appropriate application has been submitted and the fee paid.

Things to keep in mind

Couples in registered relationships will be recognised as 'de facto partners' for the purposes of most legislation in NSW, and will also be subject to certain obligations or restrictions under NSW law.

This means people in registered relationships will be able to rely on their certificate of registration to access various entitlements, services and records under NSW law. Registered couples may be able to access more easily, key benefits and rights under NSW legislation. In situations that are not governed by legislation, service providers may choose to accept registration of a relationship as proof of the legitimacy of that relationship.

If you decide to take your partner's name when changing your identification with authorities such as Roads & Maritime Services or Australian Passports Office, you may be asked to show a formal change of name certificate. Please check with the relevant authority in each case to determine their specific requirements.

Other Australian jurisdictions 

The legislation provides for the Government to make regulations recognising interstate registered relationships in NSW. For more information, please refer to Clause 4 of the Relationships Register Regulation 2010.

If a relationship breaks down

There is a fee to revoke a registered relationship. Either or both parties can apply, as it's not necessary for both partners to agree. If only one partner is revoking the registration, they must provide proof they have served notice on the other. If the partner cannot serve notice, the Registrar has discretion to dispense with the notice requirement.

There is then a cooling-off period of 90 days before the registration is revoked by the Registrar. This ensures that people do not lightly make a decision to end their relationship. As this is an administrative procedure there will be no need to engage lawyers or go to court. A fee is charged for making an application to revoke registration. If either couple requires a copy of the certificate showing the revocation details, then standard certificate fees apply.

Registration of a relationship may also be revoked by law on the death or marriage of a person in the relationship.

A registration is considered void (having no legal effect) if:

  • the agreement of one or both persons in the relationship to registration was obtained by fraud, duress or other improper means,
  • when the relationship was registered either party was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of registration, or
  • the relationship was prohibited (ie one of the persons was married etc).

Withdrawing an application

There is no fee for withdrawing either a Relationship registration (within the 28 days cooling off period), or a Relationship revocation (within the 90 days cooling off period). There is no refund of application fees.

Disclaimer

The information here does not constitute legal advice. If you would like advice about the implications of registering your relationship, you should consult a qualified legal practitioner.