All three UK census offices are planning for modified traditional censuses in 2021. The census topic coverage is broadly comparable to previous decades, but with important changes to how the data are collected. We anticipate a full range of census outputs to become available including aggregate data for areas, data about migration and travel flows between areas, samples of anonymised microdata, digital area boundaries and postcode directories, and ongoing linkages to the three UK census longitudinal studies.
As with comparable censuses internationally, the 2021 census design places primary emphasis on internet completion and the aim is for over 70% of questionnaires to be returned online. A series of Census Rehearsals were held across the UK in 2019 to make sure all the necessary operational processes worked properly. Parallel work by the census offices is focused on using data from administrative sources to potentially provide ongoing estimates for some traditional census variables, and it is likely that some administratively-sourced data (on income and number of rooms) could be directly included in the census outputs. In all countries, administrative data will be used in census quality assessment.
Definitive information about the UK census programmes, including links to the relevant legislation and research can be found at
Users with a UK perspective may also be interested in the Office for Statistics Regulation 2021 Censuses in the UK – Preliminary findings.
The UKDS Census Support team take an active interest in census plans on behalf of users, attend advisory groups and prepare generic consultation responses. However, the nature of modern consultations make it impossible to adequately reflect the breadth of all users concerns and we encourage all individuals who use, or plan to use, future census data to contribute directly to census consultation processes. We anticipate an ongoing series of consultations in all parts of the UK, which will be increasingly focused on the specification of census output products.
Official census consultation pages
The UK Data Service provides access to, and user support for, data from the last five UK population censuses (1971-2011).
UK Data Service 2021 Census webinar and survey