Census 2021 FAQs

15 March 2021


What is the census?

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in Northern Ireland. The census is unique. There’s simply nothing else that gives so much detail about us and the society we live in.

All kinds of organisations, from Northern Ireland Executive to charities, use the information to help provide the services we all need, including transport, education and healthcare. Without Census 2021, it would be much more difficult to do this.


When is the census happening?

Census Day is Sunday 21 March. Households will receive a letter in the post in early March, which will explain how to take part. The letter will contain a household access code, which they should use to complete the census online.  You do not have to wait until Census Day, you can complete as soon as your pack arrives.

A paper version can be requested if you prefer. You must complete the census questionnaire by law or you could be fined up to £1,000. There's no penalty for not completing the questions on religion or sexual orientation. 


Shouldn't the landlord do the census for my address?

It’s the householder’s responsibility to complete the census. 

The householder is a person who usually lives at this address, on their own or with someone else and:

  • owns or rents the accommodation, and/or
  • pays the household bills and expenses

The tenant or tenants who pay the bills for the household should fill in the form. This could be you, someone else, or everyone who lives here.

One person will need to take responsibility for answering the questions about the home, but each tenant can complete their own Individual questions.


 How long will it take to complete the census?

The census should take around 20 minutes per household to complete. You will be able to complete the online census questionnaire on smartphones and tablets, as well as laptops and desktop computers.


 How do I complete online?

Use the access code you received in the post.  You can find this 16 digit code in the middle of your letter or at the top right of the paper questionnaire.

Visit and click the green button ‘start census’. 

You don’t have to fill in the form all at once. You can save your progress at any time by clicking “save and sign out”. However, you should take a note of your household access code so that you can continue where you left off, otherwise you will need to request a new code and start again.  Don't forget to press "submit" when you're finished.

If you lose your access code, you can request a new one to fill in your online form.


 What if I do not speak English?

Translation booklets are available to download from Languages - Census 2021 or order through the contact centre. If your language is not included, please phone the language helpline free on 0800 587 2021.


How can I get help to complete my census questionnaire?

NISRA is aiming to make it easy for everyone to take part in Census 2021. But if you need help, there will be an online help area on the census website

There will also be a dedicated contact centre 0800 328 2021 offering help through phone, webchat, email, social media or text message. 


 How can I get a paper questionnaire?

A paper questionnaire can be requested by phoning the contact centre free on 0800 328 2021.

NISRA will also be offering guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats.  These are available at Languages and accessibility - Census 2021 or for additional language support call the language line for free on 0800 587 2021


 What happens if I do not complete my census questionnaire?

You must fill in the census form by law or you could be fined up to £1,000.


How will my information be kept safe?

The census asks questions about you, your home and the people who live in it.

NISRA has a strict security regime that follows government standards. This includes physical and IT security measures to protect your data, covering people, processes and technology.

What’s more, no one can tell who you are in the statistics that NISRA publish. NISRA makes sure that they include none of your personal information.

All NISRA systems, staff, suppliers and processes must protect your confidentiality by law.

If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please email We will help you to provide a response.