A Guide to Registering Your Relationship in Australia

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When applying for a partner visa, the applicant must be married to their spouse or must demonstrate that they have lived together for the past 12 months (if not married). But if the couple’s relationship is registered under an Australian territory government or state law, this doesn’t need to be the case, according to the Regulation 2.03A criteria.

Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory are the states and territories that enable relationships to be registered. This guide will provide you with the information you need on how to register your relationship in Australia.

Registration criteria

Couples who are looking to register their relationship are required to meet a number of criteria which are:

  • Both must be over 18 years of age
  • Is unmarried to each other
  • Must not be related by blood
  • At least one person in the relationship provides personal and financial assistance of a domestic nature

Same-sex couples and different sex couples can register their relationship in Australia as well. This means that couples who do not live together for cultural, religious, or visa-related restrictions can have their relationship recognised as registered under the law.

Registration process

Both parties are required to take part in the whole registration process. Usually, the first partner will complete their application before the other party completes theirs. Upon completion of the application, the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages will contact the other partner via email who will then complete their application. This ensures that consent has been deemed by both parties, much like the process involved when completing a Notice of Intended Marriage form.

Both parties are also required to provide proof of identity. Some examples are their driver’s license (with their current address), passport, bank card, and Medicare card. Documents that are sent through post must be certified by a prescribed person such as a sworn member of the Justice of the Peace, the Justice Service Centre, and the police.

A member of the couple must also provide evidence that they live in the relevant territory or state. This can be achieved by submitting a bank statement that denotes recent transactions in the said territory or state.

Benefits of registering your relationship

There are plenty of advantages to registering your relationship in Australia. It’s quick and inexpensive way of formalising your de facto status as well as your commitment to one another. Discover the legal benefits of having a relationship recognised under the law:

  • A registered relationship waives the 12-month relationship requirement for a partner visa application and cut it down to 6 months. Not only does it facilitate the visa application process, but it also enables you to strengthen your case i.e. when you don’t have a lot of supporting evidence of your long-term commitment. Do note that registering your relationship is not a substitute for submitting evidence of a genuine and ongoing relationship.
  • A relationship certificate serves as a powerful proof for validating your de facto status for other legal matters. You can also satisfy government agencies and receive superannuation/tax benefits with your relationship certificate.
  • A registered relationship is legally recognised, thus freeing you from other criteria that requires you to prove you are in a de facto relationship.

Other ways of proving your de facto relationship

If you are in an unregistered relationship, Australia’s legal system recognises your relationship as de facto under the following criteria. You don’t have to meet all of these requirements as the relationship will be considered as a whole and not the criterias themselves. Here are other ways that you can prove you’re in a de facto relationship:

  • The duration of your relationship
  • Extent and nature of your relationship’s common residence
  • Degree of financial support and commitment between the two parties
  • Acquisition of property and joint ownership (e.g. mortgage documents, title deed)
  • Degree of commitment in sharing a life together
  • Assigned household duties and responsibilities
  • Shared bank accounts
  • Household bills (e.g. internet connection, electricity and water bill)

As you may notice, proving a de facto relationship can be quite a challenging process. With a registered relationship, there’s no need to go to these lengths to prove your relationship, thus saving you time, energy, and resources.

Who is ineligible to register a relationship?

Not all couples are qualified to register their relationship. These conditions make the couple ineligible for a relationship registration:

  • If either couple is married. Monogamy is a requirement when registering a relationship in Australia and if any of you are still legally married, you cannot register your relationship.
  • You are in a state that doesn’t allow relationships to be registered. If you live in the Northern Territory (NT) or Western Australia (WA), you’re out of luck because they currently don’t register relationships.
  • If both of you don’t live in the state you’re applying to. At least one person in the relationship should be living in the state or territory (unless you’re in Tasmania where both parties need to be living there in order to apply for a registered relationship).

Registering your relationship serves as a strong evidence that you and your de facto partner lead a shared life together. This can prove beneficial when applying for a partner visa or for other legal matters that require evidence of your relationship. Follow the steps here and you’ll be on your way to registering your relationship in Australia.