Census 2021

All about the 2021 Census, when it is, why it is important that you take part and how the data that is collected will be used.

The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941 and is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It will be the first run predominantly online.

Census day

Census day is 21 March 2021 in England and Wales.

You'll receive a letter from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) with an access code and instructions. You can complete your census questionnaire online as soon as you get yours, you don't have to wait until 21 March.

You will be able to complete the census using your computer, phone, or tablet. You will also be able to request a paper questionnaire, if needed.

It should take about 10 minutes per person to complete.

The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Help with completing the census

It's easy to take part, but if you need help there are a range of support services, including:

The Office for National Statistics has published a leaflet on how to get help with the census.

Census banner - the census is a unique survey that takes place every 10 years in England and Wales


Why it is important

The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. The information you give helps decide how services are planned and funded in your local area. This could mean things like doctors' surgeries, housing or new bus routes.

It asks questions about you and your household to build a picture of all of us. It looks at who we are and how we live. There's no other survey that gives as much information about our society and future needs.

Charities also use census information to help get the funding they need. Businesses use it to decide where to set up, which creates job opportunities.

Census promotion for the Roma and Traveller communities

The Traveller Movement has developed an online workshop to explain how to fill in this year's census and why it is important to tick the Gypsy and Irish Traveller or Roma box. The session will be co-hosted by Roma Support Group and will include speakers from the Office for National Statistics who can answer any of your questions.

The Traveller Movement Workshop - Stand up and be Counted, Census 2021

Date:  17 March
Time:  Starts at 5:30pm
How to join: You will need to register to join the online workshop

#StandUpAndBeCounted campaign

 A campaign called #StandUpAndBeCounted aims to ensure that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers complete the census on 21 March and tick the box for their ethnicity. To support the campaign the Traveller Movement have produced a video.

You can see the #StandUpAndBeCounted video on YouTube.

If you don't fill out the census

If you don't complete your census questionnaire you could face prosecution, a hefty fine (up to £1000) and a criminal record.

Keeping your data safe

No one can identify you in the published census statistics. Your census record is kept confidential for 100 years and only then can future generations see it. Find more information about how your data is kept safe on the census website.


Additional information

The latest information on the 2021 Census can be found on the Census 2021 website.

ONS Purple Plaques scheme which aims to recognise 22 people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community.

2011 Census - Office for National Statistics

2001 Census - Office for National Statistics

Census data 1801-1991 - For UK censuses 1801-1991, printed data reports are available. A small amount of data is available online from the 1991 Census

A vision of Britain through time - collection of maps, data, much drawn from the census reports and other resources

Share this page

Facebook icon Twitter icon email icon


print icon