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.

Census Day has been and gone but not to worry, you've still got time. Whether you complete it online or on paper, make sure you're counted this year.


- Local events and warnings
- Census day
- Help with completing the census
- Why it is important
- Veterans and the census
- Roma & Traveller communities and the census
- If you don't fill out the census
- Keeping your data safe

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.

Local events and warnings

Census field officer visits

Census field officers are now working in Uttlesford to remind everyone to complete their census and to signpost support.

All census officers:

• carry official identification cards with their photograph and name
• wear PPE, use hand sanitizer and socially distance
• can show a critical worker letter permitting them to be out and about doing their job

You can call 0800 085 8239 to confirm the identity of a census officer and the area they are working in.

Census officers never ask for money, bank details or any other financial information. They will never ask to enter a home.

They work the following hours:

Monday - Saturday 9am to 8pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 10am to 4pm

If any doubt, always close the door.

If you feel threatened or in danger, then you should call 999.

Light Up Purple

Saffron Walden's 12th century castle was lit up in purple to help draw attention to the census.

This was all part of a nationwide campaign to draw attention to the survey. Buildings across the whole of England and Wales were involved in the big switch-on over census weekend, 19 to 21 March. The aim was to create a "visual spectacular" and to highlight the importance of the census to the entire nation.

Census day

Census day was 21 March 2021 in England and Wales.

You will have received a letter from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) with an access code and instructions. You can still complete your census questionnaire online. All you will need your 16‑character access code which you can find on the first page of your letter.

You can still complete the census using your computer, phone, or tablet. You can also request a paper questionnaire, if needed.

It should take about 10 minutes per person to complete.

The census includes questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there is 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:

Easy listen, British Sign Language and subtitled videos about every section of the census questionnaire are available on the accessible videos section of the census website.

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. The answers you give in the census can help plan public services you and your family need.


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.

The ONS has published some census stories showing how different organisations use census information to plan services.

Veterans and the census

Former armed forces personnel will, for the first time, be able to identify themselves as veterans in the 2021 Census. The Being Forces Friendly podcast recently dedicated an episode to this.

Listen to the podcast on Linkedin
Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts
Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud

Warwickshire County Council have produced a series of short YouTube videos specially aimed at helping veterans and ex-armed forces personnel with the census.

Roma & Traveller communities and the census

The Traveller Movement has developed an online campaing 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 #StandUpAndBeCounted project aims to ensure that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers complete the census 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.

The ONS have also produced and animated video. This provides information about data and security for Census 2021 and explains how the Office for National Statistics (ONS) protects your personal information.


Additional information

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

Census milestones - the different stages involved in organising Census 2021 in England and Wales.

2021 Census councillor handbook - a guide for locally elected councillors. What the census is, why it matters to everyone and how we can work together to spread the word within your community.

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

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