What is the census?
The census is a survey that happens every 10 years. It gives the government a picture of how many people are in households across England and Wales. A new census will take place on Sunday 21 March 2021. You should receive information about the census through the post in the next couple of weeks.
Questions being asked in the census will help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services in your area, including transport, education, and healthcare.
The census will also give the government fresh information to improve their understanding of the pandemic. It will also help to make sure that the services you use meet the needs of our changing society. This could include hospitals, schools, universities and job centres.
You must complete the census by law, or you could be fined up to £1,000. Some questions are labelled as voluntary. It is not an offence if you do not answer these.
You must complete the census on the 21 March or as soon as possible after.
Every householder at an address is responsible for completing a census questionnaire for their household. The householder should either answer the individual questions for all household members or make sure each member answers their own.
You need to complete a census if you:
- live in private or rented accommodation
- are a student
- have a second home or empty property
- live somewhere that is mobile, such as a canal boat or motorhome
- live in a care home, armed forces base or similar establishment
- live in a refuge
- are in witness protection
- home owner
You are not responsible for filling in the census if you’re staying in the UK for less than three months.
Get an access code or paper census
To start your census online, you will need your access code printed on the letter sent you. Your 16-character access code will be a combination of letters and numbers. Keep your code safe. You will need to enter it every time you access your census.
You can start completing the census online here.
Can I complete a paper census?
You can request a paper census questionnaire to be sent in the post.
What if I don’t have access to a computer?
Contact the Office for National Statistics – Telephone free on 0800 141 2021.
They will have advisers available to help you at the following times:
- Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
- Saturday, 8am to 1pm
- Sunday, closed
- Census weekend (20 – 21 March), 8am to 8pm
If you need to speak to us in another language, call our free language helpline on 0800 587 2021.
Relay UK users dial 18001 followed by the phone number you need.
You can also obtain further information on other ways to contact the Office for National Statistics here.