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The Census 2021

Census – It’s about us!

The Census 2021 will take place on Sunday 21 March. The census is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which works independently of the government.

This will be the first census run mostly online. At the beginning of March every household will receive a letter from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Every letter has a unique access code and instructions.

The code allows you to complete the questionnaire online on any device. You can complete the form as soon as you receive your letter. You just have to go onto the census website, enter your code and answer the questions. If your household circumstances are different on 21 March, you can let the ONS know.

Why is the census important?

The census is the most accurate way to gain information on people and households in England and Wales. The information gathered from the census helps to inform how services are planned and funded in every area. This affects things like GP surgeries, hospitals, schools, utility supplies and local bus routes and more.

By taking part in the census you help to inform decisions on the services that we all use. Without this information it would be much harder to understand the community’s needs and to plan and fund public services. Because these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the census.

Getting help with the census form

A wide range of help and support is available for completing the Census form. The census website includes general guidance, help and advice in different languages and in accessible formats, including video and audio guides.

You can also phone the Census Contact Centre on 0800 141 2021 for more advice. Locate a census support centre near you to find out what support is available to help you complete the census.

You can ask the ONS to provide you with a paper copy of the questionnaire if you prefer. Just call the contact centre and select the self serve option. You will be asked for the 10 digit number which is on the top right part of your letter. If you prefer to speak to someone hold for an adviser.

The electronic 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 compatible with their programme.

Support is available for blind and visually impaired people who can obtain a braille guidance booklet, which includes information about the census and a braille translation of the household paper questionnaire.

A large print paper questionnaire can also be provided. All these materials are available from the contact centre.

The ONS has produced accessible videos using British Sign Language (BSL), audio and subtitles with the help of the Royal Association for Deaf People. These videos include translations of the letter, questions and other information.

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 website also provides advice on how to answer each of the questions.  If you do not feel comfortable identifying on the same form as the rest of your household, you can request an individual census questionnaire and answer separately.  

For further advice visit the accessibility section on the Census website.

The Office for National Statistics

The Census is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which works independently of the government.
All the information gathered is protected by law and securely stored and made anonymous. No one can identify you in the Census statistics that will be published. Personal data is never sold or shared with any government department. So you don’t need to worry about government officials dealing with applications you’ve made or payments or services you receive seeing your data from the Census.

Remember, by filling in your census questionnaire, you’re helping to make sure you and your community get the services needed for the next 10 years and beyond. That’s why it’s so important to take part. 

For more help with competing the census please call 0800 141 2021 or visit

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