About the census : Overview

What is the census?

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales.

Your answers to the census questions will help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services in your area, including transport, education and healthcare.

The online census has now closed

Census Day was on Sunday 21 March 2021.

If you still have a paper census questionnaire, fill it in as soon as you can and return it to FREEPOST, Census 2021.

What happens after Census Day

Two follow-up surveys, the Census Coverage Survey and the Census Quality Survey, help to improve the quality and accuracy of the census results.

Over the next year, we work hard to process the answers from all the census questionnaires. This is so that we can publish the initial Census 2021 findings one year after the census and the main releases two years after the census. Find out about our census processing and quality assurance.

To make sure the Census 2021 statistics we publish meet the needs of those who use them, we also run an outputs consultation.

The census in Northern Ireland and Scotland

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales.

If you live in Northern Ireland, visit the Northern Ireland Statistics Agency (NISRA) census website to find out about the census for Northern Ireland.

If you live in Scotland, visit the National Records of Scotland census website to find out how to take part in the census for Scotland.

The last census

The last census took place in 2011. Many people and organisations used information from the 2011 Census in a variety of ways.

For example, Bristol City Council used it to inform decisions on how to fund local housing improvements. It was also essential for the charity Redbridge Council for Voluntary Services to help people from ethnic minority groups learn more about dementia.

To read more about the benefits that information from the 2011 Census helped to create, visit the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website.