Civil Unions

Two people who are eligible to marry get a marriage license. Same-sex marriage became legal in Rhode Island as of August 1, 2013, so couples are no longer allowed to enter into a civil union. Any couple who entered into a civil union before August 1, 2013, has three choices.

What couples who are in a Rhode Island civil union can do

Get married and have the civil union merged into the marriage

  • Apply for a marriage license.
  • Complete and sign an Application To Merge Rhode Island Civil Union Into Marriage form when you apply for a marriage license.
  • The civil union will be merged into the marriage after the marriage certificate is signed, returned by the officiant to the clerk where the marriage license was issued, and filed by that clerk. The date the marriage certificate is recorded is the official date that legal rights and responsibilities are determined.more

Designate and record the civil union as a marriage without a marriage ceremony

  • Go to the town or city hall where the original civil union license was issued.
  • Complete and sign an Application To Merge Rhode Island Civil Union Into Marriage regardless of where either or both persons currently live. No marriage license fees will apply. more

Maintain the civil union as is

  • A civil union before August 1, 2013, will remain a legal document and is subject to all rules and regulations governing a vital record.
  • No marriage license fees apply, and there will be no recognized date of marriage.

What you should know about merging a civil union into a marriage

Date of marriage

  • The date the marriage certificate is recorded (filed) is the official date that legal rights and responsibilities are determined.R.I.G.L. §15-3.1-13

Recognition of out-of-state civil unions or legal relationships

If two people live in Rhode Island and have a legal union, other than a marriage, that provides substantially the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as a marriage and the union is legal, valid, and not prohibited, they will have the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as a valid marriage in Rhode Island. more

Deadline to merge a civil union into a marriage

There is no deadline on your ability to merge a Rhode Island civil union into a marriage. If a couple decides to do nothing, the Rhode Island civil union will remain a legal document and is subject to all the rules and regulations governing a vital record.

Additional questions

Other questions or clarifications can be directed to the clerk’s office in the city or town where you will obtain your marriage license or have your civil union merged into a marriage. If your question is legal in nature, consult your lawyer.