About Civil Unions
Civil Union website:
To view the application instructions and screen shots for the electronic civil union license system, click on the links below:
The civil union license application form is available in PDF format:
For a list of civil union/marriage license agents (who agreed to have their information posted online):
The Civil Union Law
The State Legislature approved Senate Bill 232 in February 2011 to recognize and establish the status of civil unions in Hawaii. Senate Bill 232 was signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie on February 23, 2011 and became Act 1, Session Laws of Hawaii (SLH) (2011). The provisions of Act 1 were codified in various places in the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), including in chapter 572B, HRS, the chapter on civil unions, and became effective on January 1, 2012. In 2012, the Legislature amended Hawaii’s civil union law by House Bill 2569 which was signed into law as Act 267 by Governor Neil Abercrombie on July 6, 2012. Those amendments can be found in chapter 572B, HRS, and in other relevant places in the HRS. The law makes same-sex and opposite-sex couples eligible for civil union recognition and provides that partners to a civil union shall have all the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law as are granted to married couples in Hawaii.
The law establishes that a legal union of two persons that is not a marriage under chapter 572, HRS, which was validly formed in another jurisdiction, and which is substantially equivalent to a civil union under this chapter, shall be recognized as a valid civil union in this State and shall be treated the same as a civil union entered into in this State regardless of whether it bears the name civil union; provided that the relationship meets the eligibility requirements of this chapter, has been entered into in accordance with the laws of that jurisdiction, and can be documented.
The information provided below is based on available information as of the date of update. The Department of Health is developing the official process for the public to submit applications, pay fees, register events, and receive certificates and certified copies. All information posted and dates provided are subject to change.
Recently Asked Questions
(Last updated 05/24/2013)
Who will be eligible to apply for a civil union?
- Residency: There will be no state residence or U.S. citizenship requirements.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests will not be required.
- Age: The legal age to enter a civil union will be 18 years or older for both males and females.
- Civil Union/Domestic Partnership: The new law establishes all unions entered into in other jurisdictions between two individuals not recognized under Hawaii’s marriage law shall be recognized as civil unions beginning January 1, 2012, provided that the relationship meets the eligibility requirement of Hawaii’s civil unions chapter, has been entered into in accordance with the laws of that jurisdiction, and can be documented. Those already in a domestic partnership or civil union in other jurisdictions who want to enter a civil union (either with another person than they are united to in the other jurisdiction or in a ceremony conducted by a Hawaii civil union performer) must first terminate the domestic partnership or civil union.
- Marital Status: If previously married, proof of termination of that marriage must be presented to the civil union agent by the applicant if the divorce or death was final within 30 days of applying for a civil union license. Proof consists of a certified original divorce decree or a certified death certificate. Other credible proof of termination may be accepted at the discretion of the DOH. NO FAXES ARE ACCEPTED.
- Blood Relationship: A civil union shall not be entered into and shall be void between the following persons: parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, two siblings, aunt and nephew, aunt and niece, uncle and nephew, uncle and niece, and persons who stand in relation to each other as ancestor and descendant of any degree whatsoever.
Where can I obtain my civil union license and where can I have my ceremony performed?
You may obtain your civil union license from an agent authorized by the department to issue civil union licenses. Agents are located in each judicial circuit in the state. Once you have obtained your license you can have your civil union ceremony anywhere in the state, subject to applicable property usage limitations.
Who will be eligible to perform or officiate a legal civil union ceremony?
A civil union shall become valid ONLY UPON COMPLETION of a solemnization by a person LICENSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN ACCORDANCE WITH section 572B-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes. Couples are advised to verify that the person who will be performing their civil union ceremony is licensed. Couples are advised to ask to see the solemnizer’s license before attempting to solemnize their union.
What are the steps for getting a civil union?
There is a three-step process:
- First, you must apply for a civil union license. The license permits a civil union to take place.
- Second, you and your partner must appear in-person before a civil union agent to receive your license.
- Third, once you receive your civil union license, your legal civil union must be performed by a licensed civil union performer or officiant.
More information on each step of the process is below.
How do I receive a civil union license?
- First, a civil union application must be completed. The application may be completed and printed online. The civil license application form is available in PDF format (see link below).
- The civil union license fee is $60.00 (plus $5.00 portal administrative cost). The fee may be paid online or in-person at the time the application is submitted to a civil union license agent.
- Both prospective partners in the civil union must appear together in person before a civil union agent to submit their official civil union application for a civil union license. Proxies are not allowed.
- Applications will not be accepted if sent by either postal mail or e-mail.
- The prospective partners may only obtain a civil union license from an agent in the county in which the civil union is to be solemnized or in which either prospective partner resides.
- The prospective partners should be prepared to provide the civil union agent with the necessary proof of identification and age and present any required written consents and approvals. All of the necessary documents should be obtained prior to applying for a civil union license and appearing before an agent. A valid government issued photo I.D. or driver’s license may be presented.
- Upon approval, a civil union license will be issued at the time an application is made.
- The civil union license is valid only in the State of Hawaii.
- The civil union license expires 30 days after (and including) the date of issuance, after which it automatically becomes void.
The civil union license application form is available in PDF format:
After receiving my civil union license what will be the next step for registering my civil union with the Department of Health (DOH)?
- The Civil Union Law becomes effective January 1, 2012. Civil union ceremonies performed by a licensed officiant on or after January 1, 2012 will be registered by the DOH.
- When you submit your application for your civil union license, your civil union agent will provide all the information you may need to complete the process for legally recognizing your civil union in Hawaii.
- Once your civil union license has been issued, your ceremony may take place within 30 days of your license issuance or before the expiration date. You must have a civil union officiant licensed by the DOH perform your ceremony.
- After completing the ceremony on or after January 1, 2012, the civil union officiant will record the event online with the DOH and, after DOH reviews and approves the information, your civil union will be registered.
- Once the officiant enters the ceremony information into the system and it has been reviewed and accepted by DOH, a temporary on-line certificate of civil union will be available to you for a limited time period.
- When your on-line certificate is no longer available, you may request and obtain a certified copy of your certificate from the DOH by paying applicable fees.
Who can answer my questions regarding benefits, entitlements, accommodations, civil rights, and/or equal opportunity?
The Department of Health does not provide legal advice on benefits or entitlements. For information regarding benefits or entitlements, consult with your legal counsel, employer, provider, or related government or private agencies that address these issues.
The Department of Health can provide certified copies of legal records to verify civil union status in Hawaii to those who are entitled to receive copies pursuant to state law. Certified copies of vital records are acceptable for legal and government transactions.