We’ve shared key information about the Census that individuals and organisations can refer to in order to help people complete and submit their questionnaire. For full details about the census, please visit https://census.gov.uk
What you need to know about Census Day – 21 March
The census is a survey about all households in England and Wales. Every household must complete the census and provide accurate information or you could be fined up to £1,000. 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.
There are three questions in the census that are voluntary. These relate to religion, sexual orientation and gender identity (of anyone aged over 16). Respondents have a legal right to not answer these questions if they don’t want to, perhaps due to fears around safety and privacy (see below for details about keeping your details private from your household) but we would encourage you to answer these questions if you feel happy to do so. The census information is used to help tackle inequalities. It used by charities, businesses and other organisations.
The information you share in the census cannot be used to influence benefit claims, a residency application, immigration status or your taxes. The ONS is independent from government. This means officials dealing with payments or services you receive cannot see your census information. The ONS keeps all the information you give in the census safe and confidential by law. Published statistics won’t include any personal information, so you can never be identified. Please visit the Census website for full details about data and privacy at: https://census.gov.uk/privacy-and-data-protection
When to complete your census survey
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 getting in touch.
How to complete your census survey
This year, the census is online. You will receive an access code in the post. You will need to visit www.census.gov.uk and enter your access code to get started. If you don’t have an access code, you can request one using the website. Your census can be started on one device and finished on another, as long as the same code is used. If you lose your code and request a new one, the census form will need to be started again.
Privacy and requesting an individual access code
If you have personal information that you would like to keep private from the rest of the people in your household you can complete an individual questionnaire by requesting an individual access code. Any information you provide in the individual questionnaire will be prioritised over any information shared about you in the household questionnaire. Someone in your household will still need to submit the questionnaire using the household access code.
To request an individual access code online, select “Start census” on the homepage at https://census.gov.uk then follow the instructions under “Need to answer separately from your household”
If you request a paper form, this will arrive in a non-branded envelope. See below for details about requesting a paper form.
Seeking additional support
Web chat guidance is available for use online. Visit https://census.gov.uk
Central Helpline Telephone service is free on 0800 141 2021. It is open
- Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
- Saturday, 8am to 1pm
- Sunday, closed
- Census weekend (20 – 21 March), 8am to 8pm
Text message (SMS) is available by texting 86677 within the above opening times.
Local Census Support Centres are available to help with general census queries, help you to fill in your online census or paper form, and discuss other ways to support you.
You can find contact details for your local Census Support Centre on the Census website. Alternatively, call the Central Helpline Telephone free on 0800 141 2021 and they will be able to put you in touch with your nearest Census Support Centre.
Please note that the Census Support Centres are only able to offer support by telephone at this time (this is being continually reviewed in line with changing COVID-19 restrictions) and remember to check online or ask about their opening times.
Census Engagement Managers
There are 200 Census Engagement Managers working across England and Wales who are able to help housing providers and/or asylum seeker community groups. Email to be put touch with your local one.
Requesting a paper form
If you or someone you know does not have access to the internet or would prefer to submit the census by post, you can request a paper copy using the website or call the Central Helpline free on 0800 141 2021 and request a paper copy using the automated service or by speaking to an adviser. Paper forms and guidance can be requested in Large Print or Braille.
You can also call the local Census Contact Centre and someone will complete the form with you over the phone.
Guidance in different languages and formats
If you need to speak to someone in another language, call the free language helpline on 0800 587 2021 and an interpreter will be available. Support for less common languages may not be immediately available, but people can instead book appointments to speak to someone later. In total, support will be available for more than 200 languages.
Guidance leaflets are available in 49 languages and can be accessed via the website at https://census.gov.uk/help/languages-and-accessibility/languages or by contacting the Census Support Centre. This does not include a translation of the census questionnaire. You can use a translation tool on your device but be aware that the census questions may not be translated correctly. If you are unsure, then call the above helpline.
Easy Read versions of the guidance leaflet can be requested using any of the main contact methods above.
Paper forms and guidance can be requested in Large Print or Braille.
Text Relay Service: (08001) 0800 141 2021
People with speech and/or audio impairments can use a text relay prefix when calling the contact centre. Text relay offers text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation services. Simply dial 18001 before the number of the contact centre.
The online questionnaire is compatible with most assistive technologies. This means that people using supportive software such as screen readers or magnifying technology should find the questionnaire and all information on the census website works with their programme.
There are accessible videos with BSL, audio and subtitles. These include translations of the pack that people will receive in the post when they are invited to complete the census - the initial contact letter, information leaflet and Privacy Notice - as well as translations of the questions from the online questionnaire and a thank-you video for completing the questionnaire. Visit https://census.gov.uk/help/languages-and-accessibility/accessibility/accessible-videos-with-bsl
Assisting with the census questionnaire
If a respondent cannot fill in their census questionnaire, a trusted person like a family member or friend can complete it on their behalf.
If possible, the helper should read the questions and answer options aloud to the respondent and fill in the form with the answers they give. They can read the answers back to the respondent at the end to check they’re right. The helper should avoid guessing the answers to any questions they are asked. The helper should get the respondent to sign or make their mark in the declaration box on the front of the form. If that’s not possible, they can sign it on the respondent’s behalf.
For further information and for details about answering for someone who lacks capacity, visit: https://census.gov.uk/help/getting-started/completing-the-census-for-someone-else
ONS Field Staff
After Census Day, field staff from the ONS will visit people’s homes if they haven’t yet filled in their form. They will offer guidance and encouragement if needed but they won’t help to complete questionnaire on the doorstep. They:
- Will always wear an ID badge and identify themselves immediately
- Will leave straight away and not call again if the person has already filled in their form
- Will never ask to see personal documents like passports or birth certificates
- Will never ask for payment for helping
- Will never ask to come inside anyone’s home
They will stay COVID safe and always adhere to government guidance.