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Contact with households

We’re taking a digital first approach to collecting household census information in 2022.

Waves of contact

We have updated our wave of contact model for 2022.

This model involves contacting households at key times to remind them to take part in the census. In each wave, we’ll give households the information they need to complete the census.

This model has been designed to maximise response and reduce the need for a costly follow-up.

Delivering census letters

We’re building an up-to-date and accurate list of addresses. This will help us make sure no household is missed by the census.

Find out more about how we're checking our address list is accurate.

For the first time, we’ll use the Royal Mail to deliver the census questionnaire packs. This is cheaper and more efficient than hand delivery by our team.

Contact materials

Our focus on a digital-first census will mean less direct contact between households and census officials.

We’ll send out materials that aim to:

  • encourage people to complete the census, especially online
  • include as many people as possible
  • support households to complete the census

We drew upon lot of sources when we designed these packs, including:

  • lessons learned from the 2011 census
  • best practice from other countries
  • research we conducted

We tested household contact materials during the 2019 census rehearsal. We also conducted user testing and reviews of the contact materials. These helped us make sure the materials are accessible and can be used by the widest range of people.

Initial contact

Before census day on 20 March 2022, we’ll send letters to about 2.7 million households in Scotland. These letters will ask households to complete the census questionnaire online using an internet access code.

The letter will include:

  • instructions for completing the census
  • information about the census
  • where to get support, including requesting a paper questionnaire

We’ll also include a brief message translated into 24 languages containing information about where to get help.

Before the end of March we’ll send a postcard to all household addresses reminding them to complete the census.


We expect most households will complete the census on or before census day.

We’ll start to follow up with households who do not complete the census before the end of March.

We’ll first send targeted reminder letters. If households still do not complete the census, we will make a follow-up visit to offer them support.

Reminder letters

Our first follow-up will be a reminder letter in the post. Every non-responding household will receive at least one reminder letter.

The 2 main types of reminder letter are:

  • gentle reminders to complete the census
  • firm letters reminding households that they must complete the census by law

We’ll also send letters to households that have started to complete the census online, but have not finished.

Follow-up visits

If households still do not complete the census after reminder letters, we’ll visit them in person.

These visits are to encourage households to complete the census, and offer help where it’s needed. We’ll bring paper questionnaires, language support sheets, and calling cards along on these visits.

A team called the field force will make the follow-up visits. Find out more about our field force.

We’ll do follow-up visits until 1 May 2022.

Non-compliant households

All households in Scotland are legally required to complete the census.

Find out more about how we follow up non-compliance.