What is the census?
The census happens only once every 10 years. It gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in Northern Ireland. The information you give us helps decide how services are planned and funded in your local area. This could mean things like doctors’ surgeries, housing or new bus routes.
It asks questions about you and your household to build a picture of us all. It looks at who we are and how we live. It provides vital information about us, our society and future needs.
Past, present and future
The first census in Northern Ireland was in 1926 and the most recent in 2011, which you may remember. The next census is planned for 2021. We need every household in Northern Ireland to take part to make it accurate.
Help your area
It is really important you take part. Your information helps build a picture of where you live that’ll be used to decide how vital services are planned and funded. These include things like schools, doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and libraries. Charities and local services need census data too.
Moving the census online
We’re moving to a ‘digital-first’ census. We want as many people as possible to fill in their questionnaire online in 2021. It is easy to do and can be done on any device with internet connectivity. Most people will get a letter with a unique access code on it through the post. All you need to do is enter the code into our secure website and fill in the questionnaire. There’ll be plenty of support available if you have any concerns about filling it in. If you prefer, you can still return a paper form. We will be in contact nearer the time to let you know what you need to do.
Changes for Census 2021
The census gives an accurate picture of our society and the needs of everyone who lives here.
If we can make any changes to better meet those needs, we do.
Census 2021 will have new questions which are more relevant to the society we live in today. For the first time we will be asking people aged 16 years and over a question on sexual orientation. In the household section, we will be asking a new question on renewable energy systems.
Changes to existing questions
We’re making a few changes to questions too, for example, the ethnic group question has been updated to reflect the growth of particular ethnic groups within Northern Ireland since 2011.
We do not want to ask you any more questions than we need to, so we also take some away when they’re no longer needed. That’s why we no longer ask you about things like whether or not you’ve got an outside toilet, as we did from 1951 to 1991.
This time, we will not be asking how many rooms are in your house, or what year you last worked.