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Scots risk being fined as census enters final weeks

Households who don’t fill in the census by 1 May are being warned they may face prosecution, which could lead to a criminal record and a fine of up to £1000.


With only weeks left to submit responses, National Records of Scotland Chief Executive Paul Lowe warns that people who have yet to complete theirs may be subject to prosecution.


He said:

“Taking part in the census is a legal responsibility. The census provides vital information required to invest in and run the services we all rely on.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has filled in their census. For anyone who has yet to complete it, help and support is available on the website or via our free helpline on 0800 030 8308. Anyone who hasn’t completed it could be facing a fine, so I would strongly urge everyone to make use of our support.”

More than 90% of responses received so far have been submitted online via, with just over 9% to date submitted on paper. In 2011, only 20% of all census responses were submitted online.


Paul Lowe added: “We’re very pleased with the number of responses that have been submitted online. Our preparation work for the Census told us that the majority of people would prefer to respond online, and it is good to see that this is the case. However, paper copies are still available for anyone who is not able to submit online – please call us on 0800 030 8308.

“We are also aware that up to a further 100,000 online returns have been started but not submitted so if this applies to you, please complete your return, or get in touch with us if you need assistance.”


Field teams have been visiting households to offer guidance and to advise on sources of support. For those in greatest need of assistance, the option to complete their return over the phone is also being offered.


The census asks questions on a range of topics, including the types of accommodation people stay in, household relationships, age, sex, health and employment status. New questions for the 2022 census include use of British Sign Language (BSL), passports held, previous armed forces history and new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and trans status.


Census letters have been issued to more than 2.7 million households representing 5.5 million people.


A census of the population has been taken every 10 years in Scotland since 1801, with the exception of 1941, because of World War Two and in 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.


For more information and to complete the census online, visit