8 November 2010 Relationships Register in New South Wales - What you need to know

By Caroline Bass, Senior Associate

In Brief

From 1 July 2010, couples in New South Wales are able to register their relationship with NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages.

Who can register their relationship?

All couples in a committed exclusive relationship can register, regardless of their gender.

Neither party can be married or be in another relationship that is either registered or registrable.

Only persons over 18 years of age can register and at least one party to the relationship must be a resident of NSW.

There is no requirement for a couple to be living together to be eligible for registration.

How to apply for registration

To apply, a couple must sign a statutory declaration confirming their relationship status and declaring that their relationship is exclusive, that they are not related and that at least one of them resides in NSW.

There is no further requirement to provide evidence of the relationship but there are further identification requirements to be met.

Forms enclosing the required statutory declaration for the Relationships Register can be obtained from the offices of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages or downloaded online.

Once all documentation has been accepted, there is a 28 day cooling off period during which either partner can cancel the registration application.

What is the effect of registering a relationship?

Registration gives couples legal recognition as de facto partners for the purposes of NSW legislation.

Registered couples will be able to rely on their registration certificate to access various entitlements, services and records.

What relationships registered elsewhere will be recognised in NSW?

The NSW scheme has provisions to recognise relationships registered in other states and territories for the purposes of NSW law.

The NSW government is also working to ensure that relationships registered under this scheme will be recognised under the ACT’s Civil Union Scheme and under the state registry schemes operating in Victoria, Tasmania and the Commonwealth.

The NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos has stated: “We’re working with those jurisdictions to ensure that there is recognition of arrangements under our law and that they recognise our provisions under their laws and also with the Commonwealth”.

However, relationships which have been registered outside Australia are not recognised and persons in such relationships will have to re-register with a state or territory registry scheme to confirm their status in Australia.

How to revoke a relationship which has broken down

Either of the parties in the relationship can revoke the registration by lodging the appropriate form with the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

There is no requirement that both parties agree to the revocation. However, if only one person wishes to revoke the registration, proof must be provided that the other person in the relationship has been served with a notice before revocation can be granted.
There is also a 90 day cooling off period from the date of the revocation application before registration is revoked.

What are the registration costs?

Registration costs $188 which includes a standard certificate. A revocation of the relationship will cost $116 and again includes a standard certificate.

Further information about the NSW Relationships Register

Further information can be obtained by contacting Caroline Bass at Swaab Attorneys. Information can also be found at the website of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Caroline Bass, Partner  |  Phone: +61 2 9233 5544  |  Email:

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This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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