Guidelines/brochures | Date: 2001-12-12
Ministry of Children- and Family Affairs
Act No. 40 of 30 April 1993 relating to Registered Partnership
Two persons of the same sex may register their partnership, with the legal consequences which follow from this Act.
Chapter 1 of the Marriage Act, concerning the conditions for contracting a marriage, shall apply correspondingly to the registration of partnerships. No person may contract a partnership if a previously registered partnership or marriage subsists.
Chapter 2 of the Marriage Act, concerning verification of compliance with conditions for marriage, and Chapter 3 of the Marriage Act, concerning contraction and solemnization of a marriage, do not apply to the registration of a partnership.
A partnership may only be registered if:
- at least one of the parties is a Norwegian national and one of them is resident in Norway. Being a national of Denmark, Iceland or Sweden is considered equivalent to being a Norwegian national. The King may decide that nationality of another country which has legislation on registered partnership that corresponds to Norwegian legislation shall be equivalent to Norwegian nationality.
- at least one of the parties has been resident in Norway for two years immediately prior to registration.
Verification of compliance with the conditions and the procedure for registration of partnerships shall take place pursuant to rules laid down by the Ministry.
Registration of a partnership has the same legal consequences as contraction of a marriage, with the exceptions that follow from section 4.
The provisions in Norwegian legislation dealing with marriage and spouses shall apply correspondingly to registered partnerships and registered partners.
The provisions of the Adoption Act concerning spouses shall not apply to registered partnerships.
One of the registered partners may however adopt the other partner's child, cf. section 5 a, second paragraph, of the Adoption Act.
Irrespective of the provision in section 419 a of the Civil Procedure Act, actions concerning the dissolution of registered partnerships that have been contracted in this country may always be brought before a Norwegian court.
The Act shall enter into force on a date to be decided by the King.
The Act relating to Registered Partnership entered into force on 1 August 1993. The Partnership Act enables two homosexual persons of the same sex to enter into a registered partnership with one another. A registered partnership has the same legal consequences as a marriage, with the exception of the right to have the partnership solemnized and the right to adopt children together. One of the registered partners may nevertheless adopt the other partners child (stepchild adoption). This statutory amendment came into force on January 2002.
Contracting a registered partnership
Before a partnership can be registered, proof has to be given that the conditions for contracting the partnership have been fulfilled. The procedure of making sure that conditions have been fulfilled is carried out by a notary public, who also performs the actual registration.
City recorders (byfogd), city courts (byrett) or district courts (herredsrett), or district recorders (sorenskriver) are all notaries public. The person you should contact depends on where you live in Norway.
Conditions for registering a partnership
In order to enter into a registered partnership, both persons must be over 18 years of age and capable of managing their own affairs. If you are less than 18 years old or have been declared incapable of managing your own affairs, or if a provisional guardian has been appointed for you, the person with parental responsibility for you or your guardian must give his or her consent. If you are less than 18 years old, the consent of the county governor is also required for registration of the partnership.
No one may enter into a partnership if they are still legally bound by a previous registered partnership or marriage.
At least one of the parties must be a Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or Icelandic national and one of them must be resident in Norway in order to be able to register as partners. Foreign nationals who do not satisfy the requirement as regards nationality may also enter into a registered partnership in Norway, if at least one of the parties has been resident in Norway during the two years immediately prior to registration. However, two Norwegian nationals who are both resident in Sweden, for instance, may not enter into a registered partnership in Norway.
A foreign national who wishes to enter into a registered partnership in Norway must be a lawful resident of the country.
Verification of compliance with the conditions for registered partnership
A notary public in the town where one of the parties lives must make sure that the conditions for registering a partnership have been satisfied.
Before the notary public can carry out verification, you must fill in the necessary forms and present any other documents that may be required (see below). The forms (statement by the parties to the registered partnership and statement by the sponsor) may be obtained from the authority who is to carry out verification (i.e. the nearest city recorder, city or district court or district recorder).
Both parties must present a copy of their certificate of birth.
If both of you are foreign nationals, one of you must present documentary proof that you have been resident in Norway during the two years immediately prior to registration. The requirement as regards connection/residence is deemed to be satisfied if one of you can present documentary proof of having had a residence permit that can provide the basis for a settlement permit for the two years immediately prior to registration.
If either of you is a foreign national and does not live permanently in Norway, you must present a certificate from the authorities in your home country indicating your civil status. The certificate must state whether you are unmarried or divorced. A foreign national must also present documentary proof that he or she is lawfully resident in this country. Whether or not a foreign national is lawfully resident in Norway is regulated by the provisions of the Immigration Act. It is important to be aware that foreign nationals may be lawfully resident even if they do not have a residence permit, for example during the three-month period that a foreign national who does not require a visa is allowed to stay in Norway without special permission.
If either of you has previously contracted a registered partnership or marriage, you must show proof that the partnership or marriage has been terminated by death or divorce. This may be proved, for instance, by presenting a copy of the divorce licence.
If your previous registered partnership or marriage was dissolved abroad, the dissolution must be approved by the county governor in order to be valid in Norway.
Proof must also be presented that the estate has been submitted to the probate court for administration, or a declaration must be presented from the former partner/spouse or the heirs stating that the estate is being divided out of court. If two years have passed since the divorce, it is sufficient that you fill out and submit the special form concerning division of the estate.
The documents must be presented not later than one week before you wish to enter into a registered partnership. In large towns, the documents should be presented three to four weeks before the date you wish to enter into a partnership.
The actual registration of the partnership may be carried out at a different place in Norway from where verification is effected. In such cases, a certificate is issued stating that compliance with the conditions for registered partnership has been verified and that there is nothing to prevent registration from taking place.
The ceremony is held in the premises used for such purposes by the notary public. Registered partnerships may not be contracted in a church or at a Norwegian embassy abroad, except at the Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm and in the Hague, and at the Consulate General in Rotterdam.
Registration is carried out by the notary public (a judge or a deputy judge), who reads out a text that emphasizes the significance of the act. When both parties have declared their willingness to enter into a registered partnership with one another, the partnership is declared to be lawfully contracted.
After the partnership has been declared to be lawfully contracted, the partners and two witnesses must sign the document confirming registration of the partnership. They will then be given a certificate stating that they have entered into a registered partnership.
The notary public sends notification of the registration of the partnership to the population register in the municipality in which the youngest partner was resident before registration.
If either of the parties has any special wishes regarding the ceremony, such as an exchange of rings, or the reading of a poem, this must be agreed in advance with the notary public.
Legal consequences of registered partnership
Apart from the right to have the partnership solemnized in a church and the right to adopt children together, the provisions in Norwegian legislation dealing with marriage and spouses apply correspondingly to registered partnership and registered partners. This means that registered partners have the same rights and duties as married couples in relation to one another and to society. Even if the provisions of the Adoption Act regarding spouses do not apply to registered partners, one of the registered partners may nevertheless adopt the other partner's child (stepchild adoption). This statutory amendment came into force on 1 January 2002.
The status of a registered partnership abroad is explained in a separate section below.
Two persons who have contracted a registered partnership will be considered one another's next of kin under all circumstances.
Before contracting a registered partnership, you must state which family name you wish to use after the partnership has been registered. You state this on the form (statement by the parties to the registered partnership) you fill out for the notary public beforehand. You may keep your present names or you may choose the family name of one or the other party as a common family name. You will find detailed rules regarding this on the reverse side of the form.
The provisions of the Adoption Act regarding spouses do not apply to registered partners. This means that two persons who have contracted a registered partnership will not be able to adopt children together. Even if the provisions of the Adoption Act regarding spouses do not apply to registered partners, one of the registered partners may nevertheless adopt the other partner's child (stepchild adoption). This statutory amendment came into force on 1 January 2002. Similarly, only married couples may conceive children by means of artificial insemination.
A foreign national who is not resident in Norway may be granted a residence permit on condition that he or she contracts a registered partnership in this country. Naturally, the other conditions for a residence and work permit must also be satisfied.
A person who has contracted a registered partnership may not enter into a new partnership or marriage until the previous partnership has been dissolved by divorce or death. Under Norwegian law, bigamy is a criminal act. A registered partnership will not normally have legal consequences abroad. Authorities in other countries will regard the person in question as unmarried and may permit him or her to contract a marriage. However, any person who contracts a marriage abroad despite the fact that he or she is legally bound by an existing registered partnership may be convicted of bigamy in Norway.
Two persons who have entered into a registered partnership have the same rights and obligations as a married couple. This is particularly significant in relation to the National Insurance Act. Among other things, this means that a single parent who enters into a registered partnership will lose his or her right to an extra family allowance. A registered partner who supports the other partner and who receives a disability or old-age pension is entitled to a supplement for the supported partner. If both persons are pensioners, their basic pension when they become registered partners will be lower than the pension they received as single persons or cohabitants. A surviving registered partner is entitled to a survivor's pension from the National Insurance Scheme.
When you contract a registered partnership, this will affect any private or collective insurance you may have. This applies both to non-life insurance, including "combined" insurance which also comprises liability and legal aid insurance, and to personal insurance, i.e. life insurance, accident insurance and sickness insurance. However, insurance contracts vary considerably depending on the type of insurance. Your insurance company must inform you about the scope of the individual insurance policy.
The provisions of the Taxation Act apply to registered partners in the same way as to spouses. This means that a partner who supports the other partner is entitled to be placed in the Class 2 income tax category.
Registered partners are entitled to inherit each other's estates in the same way as spouses. Inheritance tax is computed in the same way as for spouses.
The financial relationship between partners
The provisions concerning community property, separate property and the obligation to pay maintenance also apply to registered partners.
There are special rules regarding residences and joint household goods. If one of the partners wishes to mortgage, lease out or sell the residence or "ordinary" common household goods, he or she must have the consent of the other partner. For transactions concerning the residence, consent must be obtained in writing. For household goods, however, the other partner's verbal consent is sufficient.
The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs has, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, published a brochure entitled "Det økonomiske forholdet mellom ektefeller" ("The Financial Relationship between Spouses" - available in Norwegian only), which explains the most important rules. Although the brochure refers only to spouses, it also applies to registered partners. You may obtain the brochure from the county governor's office.
Your status as registered partner abroad
A registered partnership contracted in Norway is not normally recognized in countries which do not have comparable legislation.
A registered partnership therefore has no legal consequences outside Norway. This means that a registered couple residing in a country which does not have similar legislation will be treated as single persons.
A temporary stay abroad does not affect the legal civil status of registered partners. This means that travel insurance taken out in the name of one of the partners and his or her family, which under Norwegian law includes the registered partner, is also valid abroad. However, it may be difficult to convince a hospital in, for instance, Spain or the USA of this. It is therefore recommended that both names be specified on the insurance certificate that you take with you when you travel.
Dissolving a registered partnership
Problems can crop up in every relationship. Assistance is available from a variety of sources to help you understand your problems and perhaps solve them.
You can contact the counselling service for gays and lesbians in Oslo, or a family counselling service, which is staffed by experts in a number of fields. You may also consult a doctor, psychologist, social worker or lawyer. Ministers who take a positive view of homosexual cohabitation may also be willing to provide counselling. In addition, the health authorities and social welfare offices can offer counselling and assistance to partners who are in the process of separating.
Procedure for dissolving a registered partnership
A registered partnership is dissolved in the same way as a marriage, i.e. the partners cease to live together, separate and divorce one another.
Registered partners may be separated by a licence issued by the county governor.
The provisions regarding compulsory mediation apply to couples who have children of their partnership under 16 years of age. When one partner has adopted the other partner's child as his or her stepchild, the partners must attend mediation proceedings before they may apply for separation or divorce on the ground that they have not cohabited for two years.
Applications for separation are dealt with by the county governor. During the period of separation, you are technically still registered partners. Therefore, you may not enter into a new partnership or marriage during this period.
Each of the registered partners may demand a divorce when they have been separated for at least one year.
Each of the registered partners may also demand a divorce if they have not cohabited for at least two years. Almost all applications for divorce are dealt with by the county governor. It is only in special cases, such as when divorce is demanded on grounds of abuse or bigamy, that divorce cases are brought before a court.
The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs has published a brochure entitled "Separation and Divorce", which contains further information. This brochure was written before the Registered Partnership Act entered into force and thus only refers to spouses. However, it applies correspondingly to registered partners. You may obtain the brochure from the county governor's office.
Advice and assistance
Free legal aid is a programme established to help people with low incomes. This programme offers free legal advice, i.e. it covers the costs of seeking advice from a lawyer. Free legal aid also covers the costs of lawyer's and court fees in connection with a court case, if you have a low income. For further information concerning the free legal aid programme, contact the county governor's office in your county, or a lawyer.
Counselling service for gays and lesbians
Tel. 22 08 29 50 (for appointments)
Norwegian Association for Lesbian and Gay Liberation (LLH)
P.O. Box 6838,
St. Olavsplass, 0130 Oslo
Tel. 22 36 19 48
The Norwegian Gay Health Committee
Øvre Slottsgate 29,
Tel. 23 35 72 00
The Norwegian Gay Health Committee, Trondheim
Olav Trygvasonsgt. 15,
Tel. 73 52 45 57/416 27 060
tel. 22 85 18 50
Legal Advice for Women (JURK)
P.O. Box 2691 Solli,
tel. 22 84 29 50
Magnus Lagabøtes plass 1,
tel. 55 58 96 00
Universitetet i Tromsø,
tel. 77 64 45 61
Brochures published by the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs:
"Det økonomiske forholdet mellom ektefeller" (The Financial Relationship between Spouses - available in Norwegian only)
Act No. 40 of 30 April 1993 relating to Registered Partnership
Act No. 47 of 4 July 1991 relating to Marriage
Act No. 5 of 3 March 1972 relating to Inheritance
Act No. 12 of 17 June 1966 relating to the National Insurance Scheme
Copies of these acts may be purchased at or ordered through a bookstore.
This brochure is published by the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs.