If you’re involved in a same-sex relationship with an Italian national, it’s important to be aware of your rights, regardless of whether you live in Italy or elsewhere.

Outside of Italy, your rights are regulated by the local laws.

In Italy, same-sex relationships can be officially recognized and legally registered with precise effects for you and your family.

While Italian law reserves marriage for heterosexual couples, same-sex couples can establish what’s known as a Civil Union, or “Unioni Civili,” which is akin to marriage in terms of its legal implications.

For a Civil Union to be valid, the following 3 requirements must be met:

1. Both partners must be at least 18 years old.
2. They should identify with the same legal gender as stated on their identification documents.
3. They should be in a romantic and economic partnership that they wish to legally formalize.

How do you enter an Italian Civil Union?

The partners must submit a formal declaration to

  • an Italian official – either a mayor in Italy or a consul if abroad
  • in the presence of two witnesses.

This union is then recorded in the Italian civil status register, similarly to marriages. The declaration should include:

– Personal details as per their ID documents.
– Residential address.
– An optional choice for a property regime for the couple.
– Personal information of the two witnesses: identity, personal data, and residence.

What are your rights as a partner within a Civil Union?

Rights and responsibilities are similar to those within a marriage. Each partner is obliged to:

  • Live together
  • Provide moral and material support
  • Contribute to shared expenses, proportional to their individual assets and earning capabilities
  • Should one partner pass away, the surviving partner enjoys the same inheritance rights as a married spouse would.


Differences between Civil Unions and marriages:

– Civil Unions are solely for same-sex couples, whereas marriage is for heterosexual couples.
– In a marriage, the wife may add her husband’s surname to hers, while in a Civil Union, the couple can choose their family surname when declaring it to the registrar.
– Upon dissolution of a Civil Union, the effects are immediate, unlike a marriage that requires a period of separation before divorce.
– Children born during a marriage are legally considered children of both parents, while in a Civil Union, they are legally considered children of the biological parent only.

Please note that ‘de facto’ families, same-sex or heterosexual, have no legal standing in Italy.

Persons of the opposite sex cannot enter a Civil Union in Italy. Unmarried partners of the opposite sex or of the same sex have hardly any legal recognition.

Do you want to know more?

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