UK Census Data

The respective devolved administrations and legislatures are responsible for census legislation.

The previous UK censuses took place on 27 March 2011. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) was responsible for disseminating 2011 census statistics for the UK. A report detailing comparability between the three UK Census offices is available to download from the UK Census web page (external link).

A key aim for the 2021 and 2022 Censuses is to produce consistent and coherent outputs for the UK and for each component country.

The censuses in all UK countries have been designed to be undertaken in a consistent manner. The three census offices work closely with each other through multiple topic-based harmonisation working groups which aim to harmonise the approach to the 2021 and 2022 censuses where possible and to maximise the ability to produce UK-wide Census data products.

However, there will be differences in some of the questions asked, some of the processing, and some of the detailed methodology. Further information will be made available via the individual countries websites as work on the harmonisation of the 2021 and 2022 censuses continue. Work will continue at pace to share the lessons learned, best practice from each census office and to identify and explain to stakeholders any areas where UK harmonisation is not achievable.

The conduct of censuses across the UK

The original statement of agreement between the National Statistician and the Registrars General for Scotland and Northern Ireland was published in October 2015, outlining the principles that the three census offices would work on together to ensure the 2021 censuses are successful in:

  • providing high-quality population and housing statistics for the UK
  • meeting the needs of data users
  • reflecting UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Eurostat and other international requirements

Following the announcement that Scotland’s Census will now take place in 2022, an updated statement of agreement concerning the censuses to be conducted throughout the UK in 2021 and 2022 was published in January 2021.

The census offices consult regularly with users, keep this agreement under constant review and publish updates on progress.

November 2020 update on progress is available. Any future updates will be made against the updated statement of agreement.

November 2019 update on progress is available.

November 2016 update on progress (PDF, 321KB) is available.

Are you a UK data user? We would be keen to hear from anyone who uses UK Census data so we can understand and best support your data needs. Please contact censussqa@nrscotland.gov.uk to share your UK census data needs.