This is a new service. Your feedback will help us to improve it.

Key census decisions


Ahead of the census and during our live collection operation, we made a number of key decisions. 

These related to how the census should be delivered and run, to make sure we could maximise the response rate and ensure the best quality data.

These decisions ranged from approving questions to how long the collection period should run for.

Question development

When developing the census questions, we:

  • engaged with stakeholders
  • considered user needs
  • consulted with the public
  • tested questions
  • engaged with other UK censuses
  • engaged with the Scottish Parliament


The final question set passed was included in the the census order and regulations that were approved by parliament in 2020.

Move census to March 2022

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, National Records of Scotland recommended to Ministers that the census be moved to 2022.


Scottish Ministers took the decision to move the census to March 2022 and this was approved by parliament.

Census collection period

During the census collection period, National Records of Scotland considered the overall return rate at the start of May (79.2%) to be too low to move to the next stage of the programme.

A recommendation was made to Ministers to extend the collection period by 1 month.


Scottish Ministers decided to extend census collection until the end of May 2022.

Closure of census collection

By end of May 2022, overall return rate was 87.4%, with 32 local authorities over 81%. National Records of Scotland considered this high enough to move to the next stage of the census programme. The International Steering Group agreed that the collect period had provided a 'solid foundation'.


Majority of Scotland's Census 2022 collection operations were closed on 1 June, with the online portal remaining available for 12 days to support late response.