Everything you need to know about filling out the Census before the deadline

Everything you need to know about filling out the Census before the deadline (Photo: Shutterstock)

On 21 March 2021, a census will be carried out in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Here’s everything you need to know before you fill in the form.

What is census day?

The census occurs every 10 years, with the last occurring in 2011, and it acts as a survey that charts all of the people and households in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The survey also aims to provide a snapshot of life which can then be used by organisations - including charities, schools and job services - to help make sure they provide the right services to people.

Households are asked to fill in questionnaires about every person living in the property, including their age, race, occupation and relationship status.

Do I have to complete the census?

By law, you must complete or be accounted for in the census.

Failure to complete the census can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

If false information is provided, a fine of up to £1,000 can be expected.

If you are staying in the UK for under three months you are not required to fill out a census.

Students and those who have gone abroad for a year are required to fill out a census form.

If you fail to complete your form, census field officers may visit your household in late March and early April.

They will encourage you to complete it and show you how to get further help if needed, and they will be wearing PPE and will not need to enter your home.

How do I complete a census form in 2021?

This year, because of Covid restrictions, people are being asked to fill the census out online using a n access code sent in the post.

Forms can be completed on a computer, mobile phone and a tablet.

The survey should be submitted by Sunday 21 March, or as soon as possible afterwards.

The Office for National Statistics is expecting 75 per cent of people to fill it out online, however those wishing to complete the phone via a paper version can request one online, or over the phone.

What if I haven't received a census form code?

If you haven’t received an access code, you can fill a form out online to request a new one.

If you have a UK mobile phone number you can order a new access code for your address here, which will be sent to you by post or by text.

If you do not have a mobile number, you can find out more information here.

What questions are on the census form?

The census has a selection of mandatory and non-mandatory questions, with the questions changing and evolving over time to better reflect society.

People filling out the form will be asked questions about age, ethnicity, religion, employment and relationships.

The 2021 census will contain three new questions, including asking whether you are a veteran, and a voluntary question on your sexual orientation and your gender identity for over 16’s.

The 2021 census will also have a tick box for people who are of Roma ethnicity, as well as the current ‘Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ box, under the ethnicity question.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the UK's National Statistician, has suggested 2021 could be the last census, as he is looking into cheaper and more up to date alternatives.