What is the Census?

England and Wales conduct a survey every 10 years and everyone takes part in it.

What is the Census
Census 2021 is Digital First and you are encouraged to complete this online

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for the Census, which is important because it records the most detailed information about the society we live in. Scotland and Northern Ireland will hold their own Census in March 2022.

Why do we have a census for

The survey provides information to governments which aids their ability to monitor equality, set policy, plan for services and the allocation of resources. This is relevant for Public health and Social Care, Housing, Education, Transport, Planning and development and more.

The Census 2021 is being conducted to despite the COVID-19 pandemic as it is the only source of local level information that gives data on ethnicity, occupation and household composition.

In more recent times the public interest has grown over the historical Census data. The National Archives has published advice on how to access data over 100 years old for historical and ancestry research.


Is it anonymous

The ONS does publish statistics, but it is anonymous with no personal Information. The information will eventually become available after 100 years.

Do I have to complete the Census

Yes, in 1920 it became a legal obligation under the Census act 1920. 2021 will be the DIGITAL FIRST and unlike past surveys it will not be sent as a paper form to your home. The focus of 2021 is to engage with everyone included under-represented and or hard to reach groups.

The ONS also confirmed that paper forms will be available upon request for those who need it. The ONS Digital Divide report shows that over 90% of the UK population currently use the internet with it hopes will acceleration the results and analysis of the census. It will also reduce cost, improve the data quality and be more efficient for the public to complete.

How do I complete the Census

You will receive an Initial Contact Letter with a unique code for the electronic questionnaire.  The letter will guide you to the www.census.gov.uk website where you can start the census and Enter your 16-character access code.

What is the Census
Sample Initial Contact Letter

What if you are away or abroad on Census day

If you are not in the UK on this date, for less than 12 months, you must still be counted in the Census. You should be included on the form sent to your perm ant or family address. If there is no one at home then it is to be filled in as soon as you return.

If you don’t have an access code

You can request a new access code to start a new Census if you have lost or not received an access code. You can choose if this is to be sent to you by text or post. This will start a new Census, and you will lose any answers entered using a previous access code.

When is the Census

Every household will receive the pack including the initial contact letter between 3rd March and 13th March 2021. The 2021 Census it’s self takes place on Sunday 21st March 2021. This should be completed immediately as reminder letters will begin from 22nd March 2021.

Language & Accessible Support

There are translation booklets for 48 languages including a full translation of the question air. The contact centre will be able to send these via the post. An interpretation service is available in 53 language via the public contact centre via the phone. British sign language videos including BSL translations of the questions, with subtitle and audio are available too. Braille, Easy Read booklets have  been created in addition to a Large Print version of the question air and information leaflet.

Contact Centre Details


Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 8am to 1pm
Sunday, closed
Census weekend (20 – 21 March), 8am to 8pm
Telephone free: 0800 141 2021

Web Chat https://census.gov.uk/en/web-chat/

If you need to speak to the contact centre in another language, there is a free language helpline on 0800 587 2021.

Text  Relay UK users dial 18001 followed by the phone number you need.

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