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Millions have just hours to complete Census or risk £1,000 fine

The Census takes place every year and aims to provide a ‘snapshot’ of UK life


There are just hours to go to fill out the 2021 Census and you risk a fine of £1,000 if you don’t make the deadline. People in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are today being asked to complete an online questionnaire to provide a snapshot of life across the UK. The once-in-a-decade survey asks the public to answer questions about every person living in their household, including their age, race, education and employment and health statuses. For the first time, over-16s will be asked to answer voluntary questions on gender identity and sexual orientation. Here’s our breakdown on the 2021 Census and what you need to do.


What is the Census and when does it take place?


The Census is an official count of every person and household in the UK on a given day – this year is Sunday March 21. It has taken place every 10 years since 1801, excluding 1941, and is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in England and Wales and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Scotland’s Census has been delayed until March 2022 due to the pandemic. It provides the most accurate data on who lives in the UK and what they do. This year is set to provide a long-lasting impression of how Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted the country. The ONS says it aims to create a ‘detailed snapshot of our society’ to help the Government and local authorities plan and fund services such as roads, education and GP surgeries by using statistics pulled from the huge survey. Charities, hospitals, schools, universities, job centres and others also use the data to help improve their services.

How long does it take and what information do I need to provide?


This year’s Census will mostly be completed online due to the pandemic. Officials say it takes around 10 minutes to complete the household questions and a further 10 minutes per person for individual questions. You will be asked for details on every household member’s sex, age, ethnicity, occupation, education and relationship status. There are also questions on your main language, national identity, living circumstances and even your commute to work if you are not working from home currently. You do not have to answer any questions marked as voluntary. Some, such as those on religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, are not mandatory.


How do I fill in the form and when is the deadline?


All households should have already received letters with an access code to log into the form online via a computer, tablet or smartphone. Access the form by visiting, click ‘start census’ and you will be asked to enter your household’s 16-character access code. When you’re finished completing the questions, remember to click ‘submit’ otherwise your details won’t save and you could be fined. The Census should be completed on Census day itself – today. –