De-facto Relationship registration in the different states and territories

    1. What is a de-facto relationship?
    2. The Department of Home Affairs criteria for de-facto relationships in partner visa applications
    3. De-facto relationship registration in Queensland (QLD)
    4. De-facto relationship registration in New South Whales (NSW)
    5. De-facto relationship registration in Victoria (VIC)
    6. De-facto relationship registration in The Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
    7. De-facto relationship registration in South Australia (SA)
    8. De-facto relationship registration in Tasmania (TAS)
    9. Western Australia
    10. Northern Territory

De-facto defined

De- facto relationships are governed by state legislation and the registration and eligibility criteria is different in each Australian state/territory. However, The Australian Federal Government defines a de-facto relationship under Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975.

According to the Australian Government de-facto means “you and your partner, who may be of the same or opposite sex, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.” However, your relationship is not a de facto relationship if you were legally married to one another or if you are related by family.

Partner Visas

De-facto relationships are recognised by DOHA for partner visa applications.

To be eligible for a partner visa as a de-facto couple you must:
  • Have been in a registered defacto relationship for a minimum of 12 months
  • You are committed to life with your partner (permanently and to the exclusion of all others)
  • You either live together or if separately it is in a temporary basis
  • You are not related by family


  • You can demonstrate compelling and compassionate reasons exist
  • The sponsoring partner is/was a holder of a permanent humanitarian visa, where your relationship was disclosed in the grant of this visa
  • Your sponsor has applied for a humanitarian visa
  • Your relationship is registered with an Australian state/territory
What determines a relationship is genuine?

When determining a relationship is genuine the department of home affairs (DOHA) and immigration will assess validity via the following categories that must be shown throughout the entire relationship and not just at date of application:

Financial: Proof of joint assets (real-estate or other relevant assets) and joint financial responsibility

Social: Third party knowledge of the relationship can be demonstrated

Household: Recognised shared household responsibilities

Nature of commitment: You can demonstrate lifelong commitment to only each other and to the exclusion of all others

As well as the department requires a personal statement that includes:

  • How, when and where you first met
  • How the relationship developed
  • When you moved in together, engaged or married
  • What you do together
  • Any time you’ve spent apart
  • Significant events in the relationship
  • Your plans for the future

Registering a De-facto relationship


Qld state government definition

“A civil partnership is a legally recognised committed relationship that may be entered into by 2 eligible adults, regardless of their sex.” (QLD Government, 2016 on the Civil Partnerships ACT, 2011)

  • Both parties must be 18 years or older
  • One partner must live in Queensland
  • Both parties must provide 3 forms of proof of identification *see below*
  • Neither party can be married or already in a registered civil partnership. If either party has been previously married or in a registered relationship you must provide evidence of the relationship’s termination i.e., divorce or death certificate
  • You are not in a ‘prohibited relationship’ (related by family)
  • Have a mutual commitment to a shared life
  • You and your partner must read the legal effects of a civil partnership
How to apply
  1. Make sure you are eligible and have read the relevant documents above
  2. Complete the ‘register a civil partnership application form’
  3. Go to a justice of peace or other authorised person, take your proof of identification and other supporting documents to be certified as well as to complete the statutory declaration section of the application form
    • Commissioner for Declarations
    • barrister or solicitor
    • notary public
  1. Attach your certified proof of id, eligibility documents and evidence of your home address to your completed application form and post them to The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, PO Box 15188, CITY EAST QLD 4002.
  2. Apply and Include payment when posting if you are requesting a certificate
Proof of identity Queensland

You must provide 3 forms of current ID:

  • 1 from each category below


  • 2 from Community ID and 1 from the home address evidence categories below.
Personal ID
  • Australian photo driver licence
  • Australian passport
  • Overseas passport
  • Australian proof of age card (formerly 18+ card)
Community ID
  • Medicare card
  • Concession or health care card
  • Student ID
  • School or other educational report from the last 12 months
  • Salary advice or payslip
  • Private health provider ID card
  • Defence force or police service identification card
  • Australian firearms licence
  • Document of identity issued by the passport office
  • Naturalisation, citizenship, or immigration certificate
  • Full birth certificate
  • Security guard or crowd control licence
  • Government employee photo ID
  • Blue card
Home address evidence

(you only need to provide the page containing your name and home address details)

  • Recent utility account—such as gas, electricity, home phone
  • Rent or lease agreement
  • Rates notice
  • Registration or driver licence renewal notice
  • Recent official letter from government service providers (not from us)
  • Electoral enrolment document
  • Insurance policy notice
Home address – Evidence of QLD residency At least one person in the relationship must be able to provide evidence that they have lived in Queensland for the past 12 months

such as a letter written on letterhead, dated, and signed by your:

  • employer
  • doctor
  • educational institution
  • the Australian Electoral Commission.

This letter should state how long you have lived in Queensland and how long the person or organisation has known you.


New South Whales

NSW state government definition:

“A de facto relationship is when you and your partner have a relationship and live together as a couple but are not married.” (NSW government, 2021)

Registering a de-facto relationship in New South Whales

The ‘NSW relationship register’ provides legal recognition for adults in a relationship. If you are in a legally registered de facto relationship, in NSW your rights will often be the same as if you were married.

  • One of you must live in NSW
  • You must both be over the age of 18
  • You must not be married to each other or anyone else
  • You must not be in a registered relationship in another state or territory in Australia
  • You must be in a committed and genuine relationship with exclusion of all others (a monogamist relationship)
  • You must not be related by family.
What you need

Each partner will need to provide

  1. a current email address, personal and contact details
  2. 3proof of identity documents (the partner residing in NSW may need to provide a document from a fourth category) these will need to be digital copies
  3. a statutory declaration, witnessed by anauthorised witness
  4. details of the authorised witness.

You will also need a current credit card for payment.

How to apply

To register a relationship in New South Whales, you will need to apply online via Service NSW

  1. Check the eligibility requirements
  2. Select the ‘Apply online’ button
  1. Enter the required details
  2. You will receive your Online Reference Number (ORN) in an email from Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM)
  3. Select the ‘Instant LOGIN’ link in your BDM email.
  4. Complete the online form
  5. Upload the required documentation
  6. Submit your application
  7. After you submit your application, your partner will receive an email from with an ORN. Your partner then needs to complete Steps 5 to 8 as well
  8. You can then decide if you’d like a relationship ceremony and/or commemorative certificates.
  9. Confirm your order
  10. Make your payment.
  11. You’ll both receive an email from BDM confirming receipt of your application and payment.

If you’re not able to apply online:

  1. Download and complete the Application to register a relationship – PDF, including the statutory declarations.
  2. Post your application to:

NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages
GPO Box 30
Sydney, NSW 2001

Proof of identity (POI) documents

You will each need to provide one document from each category

If you cannot provide a POI document from category 1, you’ll need to provide at least one document from Category 2 and 2 documents from Category 3.

Category 1 If you cannot provide a POI document from category 1, you’ll need to provide at least one document from Category 2 and 2 documents from Category 3
–          Australian birth certificate

–          Australian citizenship certificate

–          New Zealand citizenship certificate

–          New Zealand birth certificate

–          ImmiCard

–          Certificate of Registration by Descent

Category 2
  • Australian driver licence
  • Australian passport
  • Australian firearms licence
  • overseas passport containing a current visa
  • proof of age card, or photocard issued by an Australian state or territory
Category 3
  • Medicare card
  • Private health care card
  • Centrelink pensioner concession card, or other entitlement card
  • Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs card
  • Security licence
  • Student or tertiary education ID card

The partner who lives in NSW, will also need to provide a document confirming your residential address if none of the POI documents used shows your address.

Examples of documents could include, but are not limited to:

  • an electricity, water or gas bill issued within the last 3 months
  • a lease agreement
  • a council rates notice issued within the last 12 months.
Proof of authorised witness

Authorised witnesses include:

  • Justice of the Peace (JP)
  • public notary
  • legal practitioner
  • British or Australian consular officer
  • judge or magistrate



Victoria’s state government definition

“A de facto relationship is when two people are not married but live together or have lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis. A family law court can make decisions if there is no agreement.”


You can register a relationship in Victoria if you:

  • Are both at least 18 years old
  • At least one of you lives in Victoria
  • You’re not already:
    • Married
    • In a registered relationship, or
    • In another relationship that could be registered
  • You provide domestic support to each other
  • You’re committed to each other both personally and financially.
How to apply

To register a relationship in Victoria, you will need to apply online via Births, Deaths and Marriages

  1. Make sure you’re eligible to register a domestic relationship
  2. Go to Births, Deaths and Marriages and click “register a domestic relationship”
  3. You will need to create an account
  4. You will be asked to enter details of the relationship you and your partner need to do this separately; you can only complete your own section.
    • Partner 1 (this should be the partner that lives in Victoria) completes their part of the application
    • Partner 2 will receive an email from Births Deaths and Marriages
    • Partner 2 will complete their part of the application
  1. Both of you will need to upload proof of your identity, in Victoria this is two identity documents, one of which must have your photo on it, i.e., drivers’ licence and passport
  2. The partner that lives in Victoria will need to provide proof of residence and life in Victoria i.e., a recent bank statement showing transactions in Victoria
  3. If applicable you will need to provide proof that you are of ‘single’ legal status. If either partner has been previously married or in a registered relationship, you must provide proof of that relationship’s termination for example:
    • Divorce certificate
    • Certificate of revocation of a registered relationship
    • Death certificate of your former partner
  1. Once all evidence has been uploaded and both partners have completed their part of the application, submit your application and complete payment
  2. There is a ‘28-day cooling off’ period after you have completed your application and it has been received by Births Deaths and Marriages before the relationship is officially registered


The Australian Capital Territory

ACT state government definition

“A civil partnership provides a way for couples to formally register certain domestic relationships, such as de facto relationships. Civil partnerships can be entered into by opposite sex and same sex couples. Civil partnerships are registered under the Domestic Relationships Act 1994 (ACT) and are taken to be in a domestic partnership for all purposes under ACT law. Civil partnerships allow couples to declare their relationship for the purpose of obtaining or exercising rights under Territory laws, without marrying or entering a civil union.”


A person may only enter a civil relationship if

  • they are an adult (over 18 years of age)
  • the person is not
    • married; or,
    • in a civil union; or,
    • in a civil partnership
  • the person does not have any of the following relationships with the person’s proposed partner:
    • lineal ancestor
    • lineal descendent
    • sister
    • half-sister
    • brother
    • half-brother
  • At least one proposed partner must be an ACT resident
How to apply
  1. Make sure you are eligible to enter a civil relationship
  2. To register a civil partnership you can complete the‘Application to register a civil partnership (DOC 182KB)
  3. Go to Access Canberra and pay theprescribed fee for a certificate online
  4. Each person must provide identification and at least one proposed partner must provide evidence of residency within the ACT. Forms of identification include:
    • the person’s birth certificate
    • the person’s citizenship certificate
    • the person’s current passport
    • a statutory declaration made by the person stating that it is ‘impracticable to obtain a document mentioned above; and, to the best of the person’s knowledge and belief, and as accurately as the person has been able to find out, when and where the person was born.’
  1. You will receive a receipt number after this, hold on to this number
  2. Your certificate will be delivered by post once approved and you will need to provide the same identification used when applying to receive it


South Australia

SA state government definition

Registering a de-facto relationship in South Australia

In South Australia, registering your relationship with Consumer and Business Services (CBS) means that your relationship is legally recognised.

  • Both be over the age of 18
  • At least one partner must be a resident of SA

You cannot register your relationship if either partner is

  • married
  • already in a registered relationship
  • in a relationship as a couple with another person
  • you are related to your proposed partner by family.
How to apply
  1. Make sure you are eligible
  1. Ensure you have the evidence required, both people will need certified copies of identity documents, if your documents are not in English, they must be translated.
  2. Identification must not be expired; each person must provide one form of documentation from each section *see below*
  3. One of the following can certify your documents
    • Justice of the peace (JP)
    • Notary public
    • Commissioner for taking affidavits in the Supreme Court of South Australia.
    • Proclaimed police officer
    • Australian Consular Officer or Australian Diplomatic Officer (within the meaning of the Consular Fees Act 1955)
  1. if applicable you must prove ‘single’ legal status. If either party has previously been married, in a registered relationship or corresponding law registered relationship, you must upload a certified copy of evidence that the previous relationship has ended. i.e., divorce certificate
  2. Go to Gov and click start now under ‘register a relationship’
  3. You will be emailed a statutory declaration from the South Australian Government which must be signed by both partners in front of an authorised witness. You will need to upload this.
  4. When you have finished your application and lodged all required evidence, the South Australian Government will check your uploaded documents and process the application
  5. Your relationship will take a minimum of 28 days to be registered once the application has been processed (this cannot be fast tracked)

You aren’t required to have a ceremony when you register your relationship. However, relationship ceremonies can be held at ‘Chesser house’ and performed by registry staff. If you would like to have a ceremony, ensure you nominate a preferred date in your application

Proof of Identity South Australia
List 1

Evidence of date and place of birth

–          Australian or overseas birth certificate

–          Australian or overseas passport

List 2

Link between photo and signature

–          Australian or overseas driver’s licence

–          Australian or overseas passport

–          Australian firearms licence

–          Photo card issued by a government agency

List 3

Evidence of operation in the community

–          Medicare card

–          Private health care card

–          Credit/debit card or ATM card

–          Centrelink card

–          Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs card

–          Australian security guard licence or crowd control licence

–          School or tertiary identity card

–          Australian Citizenship Certificate

–          Visa status from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection

The partner who lives in SA, will also need to provide a document confirming your residential address if none of the POI documents used shows your address.

  • Utility account (electricity, gas, water) with proof of payment (e.g., receipt)
  • Rates notice with proof of payment (e.g., receipt)
  • Current tenancy or lease agreement
  • Superannuation fund statement
  • Land valuation certificate
  • Home insurance paper with proof of payment (e.g., receipt)
  • ATO Notice of Assessment
  • Vehicle registration papers with proof of payment (e.g., receipt)
  • Bond lodgement notice
  • Housing SA rental ledger
  • Centrelink payment advice
  • Centrelink ledger, with address history
Partner Visas

For visa purposes contact the Department of Home Affairs (Australian Government) to find out if registering your relationship can support your visa application.



Tasmanian state government definition

“A significant relationship is a legally recognised relationship between two adults.”

Registering a de-facto relationship in Tasmania

In Tasmania your significant relationship does not have to be registered to be recognised. However, when dealing with government agencies or in an emergency a certificate to prove that your relationship exists may be necessary.


You and your partner can register a ‘significant relationship’ in Tasmania if:

  • you both live in Tasmania
  • are not married or related by family
How to apply
  1. Make sure you are eligible
  2. Complete a registration form (complete this as a couple)
  3. Provide evidence of your identity and residence *see below*
  4. Pay the registration fee (this does not include your certificate)
  5. It takes 28 days for a relationship to be registered once your relationship is registered you can go online to order a certificate

You aren’t required to have a ceremony when you register your relationship. However, you can have a ceremony to formally recognise and celebrate your relationship. If you would like to have your relationship registered on the date of your ceremony, you can let Tasmania’s Births, Deaths and Marriages know the date of your ceremony and if the date chosen is at least 28 days after you lodged your application then your relationship can be registered on the ceremony date.

You can apply for a special certificate for your ceremony and the following information is completed on the day of the ceremony:

  • Celebrant’s name
  • Place of ceremony
  • Signature of celebrant
  • Signature of parties
  • Signature of witnesses
Proof of identity Tasmania

You must supply at least 3 forms of current identity.  At least one document must contain your current address.

  • One document from category 1, 2 and 3


  • Two documents from category 2 and one from category 1 or 3


  • Two documents from category 3 and one from category 1 or 2
Category 1 –          An Australian birth certificates

–          Citizenship certificate

–          Immicard

–          New Zealand citizenship certificate together with passport

–          New Zealand birth certificate

Category 2 –          Australian driver’s licence

–          Australian passport

–          Firearms licence

–          Foreign passport

–          Proof of age card

 Category 3 –          Medicare card

–          Australian marriage certificate (issued from BDM office)

–          Centrelink or Department of Veteran Affairs card

–          Security/Crowd control licence

–          Tertiary education institution ID card

–          Credit Card/bank statement

–          Recent utility account with current residential address (issued within last 3 months)

–          Lease or rent agreement with current address

–          Australian Taxation Office assessment with current address


Western Australia

In western Australia, you can register a de-facto relationship. However, it is not recognised for migration purposes.


The Northern Territory

Relationship registration is not available in the Northern Territory

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