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. The next census takes place on Sunday 21 March 2021.

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.

When to complete your census

Every household should complete the census on Sunday 21 March 2021 or as soon as possible after. If you’ve responded before 21 March and things have changed, you can let us know by calling us free. You can find the numbers on our contact us page.

The census should take about 10 minutes for the household questions and 10 minutes per person.

What if I'm away or abroad on Census Day?

If you're away from the UK on this date, for less than 12 months, you should still be counted in the census. You should be included on the form at your permanent or family address.

If there's someone staying or living in your home and they’re filling in the household form, they should include you there.

If there's no one at home, please fill it in as soon as you get back. You can also use your access code to complete online while you're away.

I don't have my access code with me

If you have a UK mobile number you can order a new access code for your address. We will send your code by text.

If you don't have a UK mobile number you can contact us for help.

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 how to take part in 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.