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Census 2021

Census Q & A

What is the census?

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. 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.

When is it happening?

Census day is March 21. However, households will receive a letter in the post in early March, giving them details of how to take part in the mandatory survey. They will also receive a unique access code, inviting them to complete the survey online, although paper questionnaires are available on request.

Why should I take part?

The census helps us understand what our society needs now and what it will likely need in the future. The information it collects helps with decisions on the planning and funding of services in your area. This could include schools, doctors’ surgeries, emergency services or even local support groups.

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.

How long will it take?

The census will take around 10 minutes per person to complete. It’s easy to do and can be done on any device, including a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

What if I don't speak English or Welsh?

Translation booklets are available to download. If your language is not represented, please contact the customer contact centre on 0800 141 2021.

How can I get help to complete my questionnaire?

The help pages on the Census website will explain how you can get help. These include general guidance, language assistance and a wide range of accessible formats including video and audio guides (English and Welsh). You can also phone the contact centre on 0800 141 2021 or visit one of our support centres offering assistance.

What happens if I don't complete my questionnaire?

You could face prosecution, a hefty fine (up to £1000) and a criminal record.

Please visit census.gov.uk for more information, and any questions you have, about the census.

Page last updated: 12 March 2021

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