Scotland's Census 2021

Planning the next census

Planning for the next census has begun and will build on the success of the census in 2011. It is being designed and managed in Scotland, to best meet the needs of its users. It will be conducted primarily online, while offering support and alternative routes of completion where required. We intend to make best use of technology, digital services and other existing data to support the census process.

You can find out more here about our plans for the 2021 Census, including: the design of the census; the extensive consultation that we will undertake as part of our preparatory work the legislation which is required to enable us to take it; and the complexities of processing the data and producing the census outputs.


The design for Scotland's Census 2021 draws on our experiences from previous censuses - particularly the last census in 2011 - as well as consideration of the opportunities and challenges presented by technological and societal changes. These have all shaped the scope, main objectives and design of the 2021 Census as well as help us consider what changes are required since 2011. Please visit the Design section to find out more.


Our current Plans for Scotland's Census 2021 and supporting documents were published on Thursday 27 September, 2018. The plans give details on consultation, tests and stakeholder engagement that have been conducted to help shape the proposed questions, which will be laid before Parliament for agreement before the census takes place.

Background and Research

The decision to plan for a census in 2021 followed on from the NRS Beyond 2011 programme and was made after considering a wide range of evidence, including results from research, stakeholder engagement, a user consultation and international experience. Please visit Background and Research section to find out more.


Every census requires legislation to be considered and approved by the Scottish Parliament.  This will detail how the census will be conducted. Please visit our Legislation section to find out more.


In undertaking our duties, we fully recognise the importance of privacy. You can find out more about how we plan maintain the confidentiality of census information on our Privacy section.

Get Involved

The success of the next census will rely on a comprehensive understanding of user needs, as well as the awareness, support and participation of the general public. You can find out more about events, consultation and engagement, how to subscribe to our newsletter along with the variety of ways you can Get Involved in this section.