In Switzerland, only same-sex couples have always been able to enter into a registered partnership. Since 1 July 2022, two people of the same sex can no longer enter into a registered partnership. This is because they now have the possibility to marry.
If you entered into a registered partnership before this date, you can decide to keep your registered partnership.
If you want to convert your registered partnership into a marriage, you can do so at any civil register office in Switzerland or at a Swiss representation abroad.
Please note: The legal differences between a registered partnership and marriage mainly concern naturalisation, adoption and reproductive medicine. Only married couples benefit from facilitated naturalisation, joint adoption and access to reproductive medicine.
Marriages concluded abroad by two people of the same sex have been recognised as marriages in Switzerland since 1 July 2022, and they are entered into the Swiss civil register as such (available in German, French and Italian).
Marriages concluded abroad before 1 July 2022, however, were not recognised in Switzerland as marriages, but rather as registered partnerships. It is now possible to request that the entry in the civil register be updated. You can do so by contacting your canton of origin’s supervisory authority for civil status matters (available in German, French and Italian). If you are resident abroad, you can request the update at the relevant Swiss representation abroad.
In principle, each partner kept their own surname.
It was also possible for two people of the same sex entering into a registered partnership to choose the surname of either partner as the common surname.
Unlike marriage, a registered partnership does not entitle the foreign partner of a Swiss citizen to simplified naturalisation.
However, if you are the foreign partner of a Swiss citizen, you have advantages under the ordinary naturalisation procedure. You can apply for ordinary naturalisation after three years of registered partnership if you have lived in Switzerland for five years including the year preceding your naturalisation application. The cantonal migration authority can provide you with detailed information on this subject.
If you are living in a registered partnership, you and your partner are not permitted to adopt a child together or use medically assisted reproductive techniques to become parents together.
However, you can adopt your partner's child if you have been living in a registered partnership for at least three years and have provided for the child's care and upbringing for at least one year.
If your partner has children, you must in any case support him or her as a parent and can also act on your partner's behalf if he or she is ill or temporarily absent.
If you and your partner are both parents because you have adopted your partner's child, you have the same parental rights as a married couple.
Property and debts
In principle, the assets (and debts) of the two partners remain separate.
However, you and your partner can enter into a property agreement, which must be certified by a notary, in which you can regulate how your assets are managed.
Partners in a registered partnership must fill in their tax returns together and pay taxes together.
In the event of the death of your partner, you have the same rights as a widow or widower in a marriage:
If you have minor children, you receive a widow(er)'s pension from the OASI.
You are also entitled to a pension from your partner's occupational pension fund if you have to support a child or if you are over 45 years old and your registered partnership lasted for at least 5 years.
You are your deceased partner's legal heir. For further information, you should consult the page on Succession.
For general information on registered partnerships, consult the frequently asked questions page on the Federal Office of Justice website.
For information on the recognition of a registered partnership entered into abroad or on the conversion of a registered partnership into a marriage, you can contact the civil register office or a Swiss representation abroad.
For information on choosing a surname when in a registered partnership, see Information about surnames.
For information on taxes, please contact the tax authority in your canton of residence.
For information on dissolving a registered partnership, go to the page on that topic.
If you have questions about your own registered partnership or an agreement on managing a registered couple's assets, you can also contact a lawyer or notary of your choice.
In the popular vote of 26 September 2021, the Swiss accepted marriage for same-sex couples as well. Details of this vote can be found on the Swiss government’s ‹Marriage for All› web page.