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Key milestones

As we work towards the 2022 census, we will pass a number of important milestones.

The timeline on this page sets out the most important of these on our journey to 2022.

September 2019

Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Act comes into force

The amended Act allows us to ask two new voluntary questions on:

  • sexual orientation
  • transgender status and history

Find out more about the Act.

Find out more about the question set for the 2022 census.

Operational readiness rehearsal

We successfully tested our systems and processes to check they were ready for the census rehearsal.

October and November 2019

Census rehearsal

The rehearsal was live from 7 October to 7 November. We asked respondents to provide information as of 13 October.

We ran the rehearsal in 3 local authority areas, allowing us to test different parts of the census service.

Find out more about the rehearsal.

November 2019

Meeting of the Population and Migration Statistics Committee (Scotland)

The committee is made-up of local authorities and population and migration topic experts. They provide stakeholder feedback on aspects of our:

  • statistical quality assurance plans
  • National Statistics action plans
  • census rehearsal updates

Find out more about the committee on the National Records of Scotland website.

December 2019

National Statistics Accreditation action plan published for comment

We published a high level action plan for stakeholder feedback. The plan set out how we intended to address actions from the Office for Statistical Regulation’s assessment of the census.

Find out more about the National Statistics Accreditation.

Statistical quality assurance strategy published

We published our quality assurance strategy for stakeholder feedback.

Find out more about how we quality assure census data.

Sex question testing report

We produced a report on our sex question testing.

You can download and read the report.

January 2020

Formal census Order laid before parliament

The Order sets out the date for the census in law.

Find out more about the legislation process.

March 2020

Census order comes into force and regulations laid

The Order received approval from the Scottish Parliament and came into force on 12 March. The regulations set out the specific arrangements for running the census.

Find out more about the legislation process.

April 2020

Census outputs website - discovery phase complete

The discovery phase of the project involved user research with a range of groups. This helped us to understand what they need and want from a new outputs website.

Discovery is the first part of the Scottish Government's Digital First Service Standards.

Rehearsal evaluation complete

The evaluation provided us with useful lessons to take forward to the census in 2022. 

Find out more about the rehearsal and read our evaluation.

May - October 2020

Data processing rehearsal

We ran an internal rehearsal to check our statistical processes.

You can find out more about the data processing rehearsal.

June 2020

We responded to Office for Statistical Regulation

The Office for Statistics Regulation is assessing the census programme. This is to make sure the statistics we produce are trustworthy and of a high quality. In June 2020, we responded to their phase 1 assessment.

Find out more about the assessment.

Census regulations come into force

Find out more about the legislation process.

July 2020

Census day moved to 2022

On 17 July, Scottish Ministers announced that Scotland’s Census would be moved to 2022, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The census was originally due to be held in March 2021.

August 2020

Census outputs website - alpha phase complete

This is the second part of the Scottish Government's Digital First Service Standards.

August 2020 - December 2021

End-to-end system testing 

We will test all census services to make sure they are fit for purpose.

September 2020

Census (Scotland) Amendment Order laid before parliament 

The draft Census (Scotland) Amendment Order will change the date of the next census to 20 March 2022.

December 2020

Census outputs beta site launches

The launch of the beta website will be the third part of the Scottish Government's Digital First Service Standards.

The beta site will include a new structure, features and functionality. The current website will still be available during this period.

February 2021

Amended Census (Scotland) Regulation 2020 come into force

The amended regulations will set-out arrangements for running the census with its new date of March 2022.

Spring 2021

New census outputs website live

The new Scotland's Census outputs website will become available and completely replace the current website.

December 2021

Census operationally ready

At this point, everything will be ready to start census collection.


February 2022

Census packs issued to communal establishments.

The packs will provide instruction to communal establishment managers.

March 2022

Census letters issued to all households

All household addresses in Scotland will receive a letter. It will tell them what they need to do to complete the census.

Field Force ready for deployment

A team of enumeration staff will be trained and ready to start the collect phase.

Census goes live

Our online collection instrument will go live from 1 March.

Outputs publishing timescales announced

We will publish a timetable showing when we will publish outputs.

Find out more about outputs.

National Statistics Accreditation - phase 2 report published

This report sets out how we are complying with the code of practice for statistics. This is part of the National Statistics Accreditation assessment.

Read the report here.