Everything you need to know about the 2021 census

The front page of the census questionnaire

Census Day 2021 is on March 21 - Credit: Archant Archives

A national census will be carried out on March 21 - here's everything you need to know about the upcoming survey.

What is the census?

Every 10 years, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) sends out a survey to every household to create a picture of all the people living in the country. 

The census is designed to help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services in each area, including education, healthcare and transport.

The survey is going digital this year and people will be encouraged to fill out the form online after being sent an access code in the post.


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However, paper copies are still available upon request.

Census Day 2021 will be held on Sunday, March 21 and people are encouraged to submit the form as soon as possible.

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How long does it take?

The government has said both the census' household and individual questions should take around 10 minutes to complete.

Do I have to complete the census?

Under the Census Act 1920, it is the law to fill out the survey and you can be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to do so or provide false information.

However, there are some questions marked as voluntary and are not required to be completed.

Government field officers will be visiting households that do not respond to the survey.

Will coronavirus have an impact?

The ONS has used past census data to discover how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected people in different ways.

But it has said the 2021 census will provide "fresh information" to allow organisations to provide services that "meet the needs of our changing society".

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