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Census 2021 - it's here! 5 Mar 2021 See article for details

Every ten years the census takes place in England and Wales, providing insight into the people who live across the country and what their lives are like. This year, census day is Sunday 21 March. You’ve probably seen lots of advertisements and information on the TV, in newspapers and social media. You will already have received your purple postcard and if you have not already received your Information Pack which contains your unique access code it will be with you shortly. 

You can start to complete the form as soon as you get your access code and if you think nothing is going to change before 21 March - Census Day - you can submit the form once completed. 

What is the Census used for?

For historians, the census is a treasure trove of fascinating detail that brings the great currents and  events of history down to a local level. 

One of the most significant trends of the 1800s, for example, was of internal migration from the countryside to the towns and cities, a consequence of the industrial revolution that had created plentiful work in the mines and mills of Northern England.

In 2011, the most widely spoken languages after English were Polish (one per cent, 546,000 individuals), followed by Panjabi (half of one per cent, 273,000) and Urdu (half of one per cent, 269,000). A small percentage (22,000) of usual residents reported a sign language as their main language; of these usual residents 70 per cent (15,000) used British Sign Language.

This year, the Census will tell future generations how we were living during the pandemic which is one of the biggest disruptions to our society since World War 2. 

Importantly, the Census is used to inform policy makers which in turn influences the amount of funding that is available for a range of services at both national and local level. 

Completing your census form/questionnaire 

Your Information Pack will explain how to complete the census. Use the unique access code to complete the form online using any device. If you’d like a paper form, call the Help Line. 

Does everyone have to complete the census form?

Yes. It’s a legal requirement to complete the census. You should include everyone in your household including babies and children and anyone staying in your home (eg lodgers, temporary guests, an older relative who is staying with you because of Covid-19). 

University students should be counted as living in your home on 21 March. They will also be counted at their University Halls of Residence or other accommodation whilst at university, whether or not they are actually living there. There is a major promotional campaign designed specifically for students explaining everything to them. 

Where can people get help?

Call the Census Help Line on 0800 141 2021 or visit

What special help is available?

Text Relay Service  (18001) 0800 141 2021

Free language helpline 0800 587 2021 and online translations in a variety of languages

Help for anyone with accessibility needs such as Large print formats and Information in Braille Call 0800 141 2021

British Sign Language support is available online.