Census Key Milestones

The planning, development and delivery of Scotland’s Census 2021 takes place over a number of years and can be split in to the following tranches:

Throughout the planning, development and delivery of the 2021 Census are key programme milestones that identify important steps in the successful delivery of Scotland’s next Census in 2021.

The following table highlights the key milestones we will be working to achieve. All dates are based on current plans and projections. These are subject to change and may be updated as we progress in our planning and testing for Census 2021.

To find out all the ways you can get involved, be kept up to date with the latest news and information, or to have your say on any part of Scotland’s Census 2021, please visit our Get Involved pages.





Supporting Information

Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Act in force

September 2019

This confirms that we can ask voluntary questions on sexual orientation and transgender status and history, if the Scottish Parliament agrees to have these questions, in the 2021 Census.

Bill successfully passed – voluntary questions on sexual orientation and transgender status and history can now be asked in the 2021 Census.

Scotland's Census Legislation 2021

Operational Readiness for Rehearsal

September 2019

Following Operational Readiness Testing during September.

Testing successfully completed –Operational Readiness for Rehearsal confirmed.

Census Rehearsal (Release 1) goes live

07 October – 07 November 2019

Census Rehearsal Day – 13 October 2019

Helpline goes live.

A public-facing test of the online and paper channels at scale.

Collection phase.

Census Rehearsal (Release 1) went live on 07 October 2019 as planned.

Census Rehearsal

Rehearsal collection period complete

07 November 2019

Online Collection Instrument to close.

Helpline closes.

Rehearsal collection period closed on 07 November 2019

Census Rehearsal

Population and Migration Statistics Committee (Scotland) (PAMS)

19 November 2019

A meeting of Local Authorities and population and migration topic experts who will provide stakeholder feedback on aspects of Statistical quality assurance plans, National Statistics action plans and census rehearsal updates.

The PAMS November meeting took place and stakeholder feedback is being collated to be fed back to the programme.

PAMS (opens an external website)

National Statistics Accreditation - Action Plan Published for Comment

December 2019

A high level action plan showing how we intend to address actions from the Office for Statistical Regulation’s Assessment of the 2021 Censuses - for stakeholder feedback.

High level action plan was published in December 2019 for comment

National Statistics Accreditation

Statistical Quality Assurance Strategy -  Published for comment

December 2019

We will request stakeholder feedback on our plans for assuring the quality of 2021 Census data.

Statistical Quality Assurance Strategy was published in December 2019 for comment

Statistical Quality Assurance

Sex Question Testing – Report

December 2019

Research report on the Sex Question is available to committee.

Report published December 2019

Sex Question Recommendation Report

Formal Census Order laid

23 January 2020

Following the period of informal scrutiny of the draft order by the Committee, the formal Census Order is laid before Parliament for their approval. Subject to affirmative procedure.

Order Successfully laid on 23 January 2020 and in force on 12 March 2020

Scotland's Census Legislation 2021

Census Outputs website: Discovery Phase complete

Spring 2020

This discovery phase is the start of the Digital First Service Standards assessment which will involve User Research with stakeholders to identify what they need from a Census outputs website.

April 2020: Discovery phase complete, Alpha phase beginning

Digital First Service Standards (external link)

Data Processing Rehearsal

May 2020

An internal rehearsal to test statistical processes

Work commenced in May 2020

Draft Census Order in force and Regulations laid

April 2020 (dependent on Census Order approval date)

The Census Regulations detail the arrangements necessary for the conduct of the Census. Subject to negative procedure.

Census order came in to force on 12 March 2020.

Scotland's Census Legislation 2021

Census Rehearsal Evaluation Complete

April 2020

All evaluation activity and final reporting on collection rehearsal complete.

Evaluation report published April 2020

Census Rehearsal

National Statistics Accreditation – NRS Response to Actions

May 2020

We will publish a report demonstrating how we have responded to the actions given to us by the Office for Statistical Regulation (OSR) in their Assessment of the 2021 Censuses.

Scheduled Publication date: 15 June 2020

National Statistics Accreditation

Census Regulations in force

June 2020

The legislative process is complete.

Scotland's Census Legislation 2021

Census Outputs Website: Alpha phase complete

Summer 2020

This is the second phase of the Digital First Service Standards assessment and will continue the work started in the discovery phase.

Digital First Service Standards (external link)

Census – End-to End Testing

August - December 2020

The final, major testing period for all census collection systems.

Census Operationally ready

December 2020

Everything in place ready to start census collection.

Census Outputs Website: Beta phase complete

Winter 2020

This phase of the Digital First Service Standards assessment includes the production of the public facing Beta website with the new structure,  features and functionality. The old style website will still be available and the Beta website will continue to be updated once it is live.

Digital First Service Standards (external link)

Field Force Ready for Deployment

March 2021

All field force staff trained and ready to be deployed.

Census letters issued to all households and communal establishments (CEs)

February 2021 - CEs

March 2021 – Households

Start dates for mailing out paper contact letters (to households) and packs (to CEs).

Census goes live

1 March – 2 May 2021

Census day:

21 March 2021

Announce Outputs publishing timescales

March 2021

Timetable of the various outputs of data from the Census is published.

SDC and 2021 Outputs

National Statistics Accreditation – Phase 2 Report Published

Spring 2021

Our submission to Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) for assessment of  how we are complying with the Code of Practice for Statistics through assuring the quality of our statistics and providing value to users.

National Statistics Accreditation