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The Census

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

The NPC has poduced the below briefing on the census, but we would love to hear your experience of filling out the form, or trying to obtain a paper version. If you are able to, please email us on or call us on 020 7837 6622 . We currently have limited access to our office, but please do leave a message on the answerphone.

The Census Briefing Paper March 2021


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. It is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 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.

The census is moving to a ‘digital-first’ census and they want as many people as possible to fill in their questionnaire online in 2021. You will get a letter with a unique access code on it through the post.

The census in Northern Ireland and Scotland

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 in 2021. 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 in 2022. Details can be found below.

You must complete the census by law

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.

It is an offence to supply false information or to not complete the census, and you could be fined up to £1,000. Some questions are clearly labelled as voluntary. It is not an offence if you do not answer these.

How and 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 them know by calling them (contact details below). The census should take about 10 minutes for the household questions and 10 minutes per person.

To complete the census, you need to go to, enter the code from the census letter, and fill in the questionnaire. If you prefer, you can still return a paper form. You can request a paper census by going to by calling 0800 141 2021 or going to

What if I am not online?

For people who do not have access to the internet, they are able to request a paper version using the telephone number above. The NPC has however had reports that

the telephone queue is often long or directs people to use the census website.

The information is fairly limited about how people who are unable to request a paper census are going to be able to complete it on 21st March 2021. However, at the end of March and into April, people known as 'field officers' will go to doorsteps of homes which have not completed the census. They will be ONS employees, who will have ID, will have been vetted and will supply a census form for you to complete in your own time. It should only be the case that they remain on your doorstep if you require help completing the form. They should not enter your property.


General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “The 2021 Census should have been postponed. Census data informs government policy for years to come, and poor data could lead to disastrous errors. Details of how data will be collected is already confusing and many people risk being fined for not completing the forms because they don’t know what they ought to do."

The census contact information is below for your information.

Further Information

[1] Census Homepage

[2] Census Contact

[3] 2011 Census Information

Census Contact Information


Advisers are at the following times:

· Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

· Saturday, 8am to 1pm

· Sunday, closed

· Census weekend (20 – 21 March), 8am to 8pm


Telephone free: 0800 141 2021


Telephone free: 0800 169 2021 (available in English or Welsh)

Northern Ireland

Telephone free: 0800 328 2021 or

Scotland Census

Further information will be released about the Scottish census later in the year


National Pensioners Convention

Marchmont Community Centre

62 Marchmont Street



You can download the briefing below

The Census and Older People Briefing Pap
Download • 108KB


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