The Partenariat (PACS)

Information on the PACS, a civil union also recognised for same-sex couples, giving them some of the legal rights of a traditionally married couple: how and where to register a civil partnership and the documents required...

Same-sex marriage is allowed in Luxembourg since 1 January 2015.

Since 1994, a Partenariat (PACS) is a legal alternative to marriage and is available for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. It gives rights to both partners, in particular regarding tax, social security and civil status issues. Essentially it is a contract between two people (never more) of either sex following a declaration to the civil registrar of their local Commune.

Preparing for Registration of a PACS

Any person legally resident in Luxembourg may register a civil partnership (PACS). The future partners must be living together and be aged 18 and over at the time of the PACS declaration.

To begin the preliminary formalities they enquire at the civil registrar of their place of residence where they will be given a list of documents to provide and usually a date for the declaration will be fixed. All documents must be in French, German or English, documents in any other language must be translated by an official translator. Foreigners may have to provide additional documents.

Documents required

  • Identity card (for EU nationals) or passport (for all other nationalities)
  • Residence certificate (certificat de résidence) established by the Municipal Office/Town Hall in the place of residence. Frequently issued at the same time as the PACS is registered at the townhall.
  • Full birth certificate (Acte de naissance intégral), less than 3 months old if supplied in Luxembourg, or less than six months old if supplied abroad
  • A certificate of single-status (certificat de célibat) less than three months old. For Luxembourg nationals this is part of the birth certificate and can be obtained from the Municipal Office/Town Hall of the place of residence. Foreign nationals will need to provide another document depending on their nationality (for example US citizens must provide an affidavit of eligibility and UK citizens a certificate of no impediment)
  • An affidavit stating that neither of the future partners are related in any way. A template is available at the Town Hall and is generally filled in and signed at the time the PACS is registered.
  • Luxembourg residents (whether or not Luxembourg nationals) have to provide a certificate declaring that they are not already in a PACS contract, issued by the Répetoire Civil - Parquet général in Luxembourg. A form is obtainable at office 11 of the Parquet (Cité Judiciaire, Plateau du St Esprit, Luxembourg) or by calling 47 59 81 - 341.
  • Foreigners must provide a certificat de coutume or a certificate from the appropriate authorities in their country of origin (usually their Embassy) stating that they are not already in a civil partnership of any kind

If either of the couple has been divorced or widowed they should supply proof in the form of an Acte de mariage (certified copy of the final divorce decree) or an Acte de décès (in the case of widowhood). For nationals of the European Community, the divorce should be evidenced by a "Certificate Referred to in Article 39 Concerning Judgments in Matrimonial Matters".

A financial agreement (convention patrimoniale) can be drawn up with the help of a notary, particularly if the couple wishes to establish additional terms of the agreement with regards to financial matters. This can be presented to the civil registrar during the PACS declaration or sent to the Parquet general in the following 6 month.

How to Register a PACS

Once the documents have been verified by the civil registrar there is no waiting period and the declaration can be registered immediately by the civil registrar. However, it is possible to make an appointment for the declaration to take place at a set time in the room that is used for marriages.

The declaration is sent to the Parquet général within three days by the Civil Registrar. Following the registration at the Répertoire Civil, each partner receives a certificate stating that they are officially registered in a Partnership.

Benefits and Obligations of a PACS

The declaration allows PACS partners the following:

  • The same social security cover and benefits as a married couple
  • The same gift, inheritance and succession rights as a married couple
  • Tax relief for income and indirect taxes (starting at the first full calendar year of partnership)
  • Partners are liable for each other's debts and contracts incurred after the agreement is made (unless they have signed a contract regarding their personal assets known as a convention patrimoniale)
  • Partners must provide "mutual and material" assistance to each other

Employees or civil servants are entitled to a special leave of six days for a PACS partnership event.

Ending a PACS

Cessation of the PACS agreement is made:

  • by the civil registrar at the common agreement of the partners
  • by the death or the marriage of one of the partners
  • at the request of one of the partners who must inform the other partner through a bailiff

Recognition of the Civil Partnership

While some countries recognise the Luxembourg PACS civil union, a civil partnership entered into in another country is not recognised by Luxembourg law and the civil partner is not afforded the rights of a marriage partner with regards to immigration, tax or social security. However a couple already in a foreign civil partnership may not enter into a PACS agreement as they would not be able to produce a certificate stating that they are not already in a civil partnership of any kind.

A British civil partnership (for example) is not regarded as the equivalent of the civil union in Luxembourg because the contracts serve different purposes: the British civil partnership concerns same-sex partners and is equivalent to a marriage; the Luxembourg civil union is a partnership agreement between a same or different sex couple and is not equivalent to marriage.

With contributions from Tom Stoffel, rédacteur principal, A.C. Berdorf.