Mnemonic: legal_partnership_status
Applicability: Person
Type: Derived variable


Classifies a person according to their legal marital or registered civil partnership status on Census Day 21 March 2021.

It is the same as the 2011 census variable "Marital status" but has been updated for Census 2021 to reflect the revised Civil Partnership Act that came into force in 2019.

In Census 2021 results, "single" refers only to someone who has never been married or in a registered civil partnership.


Total number of categories: 12

Code Name
1 Never married and never registered a civil partnership
2 Married: Opposite sex
3 Married: Same sex
4 In a registered civil partnership: Opposite sex
5 In a registered civil partnership: Same sex
6 Separated, but still married
7 Separated, but still in a registered civil partnership
8 Divorced
9 Formerly in a civil partnership now legally dissolved
10 Widowed
11 Surviving partner from civil partnership
-8 Does not apply*

*Students and schoolchildren living away during term-time, and children aged 15 years and under.

View all legal partnership status classifications.

Quality information

Separate estimates by opposite and same-sex partnerships for the marital status categories “Separated”, “Divorced/dissolved” and “Widowed/surviving partners” are not available. This is because quality assurance showed the figures for some of the categories were unreliable.

Read more in our Demography and migration quality information for Census 2021 methodology.


Read about how we developed and tested the questions for Census 2021.

Comparability with the 2011 Census

Broadly comparable

We have added the same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnership status categories that have come in since 2011. Therefore, there are same-sex and opposite sex categories for those in a partnership. However, the same-sex and opposite-sex categories for legal partnership statuses outside of a partnership (people who are either separated, widowed, surviving partner, divorced or their partnership has legally been dissolved) have been collapsed together because of data quality issues.

What does broadly comparable mean?

A variable that is broadly comparable means that it can be generally compared with the same variable used in the 2011 Census. However, changes may have been made to the question or options that people could choose from or how write-in answers are classified.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland comparisons

Broadly comparable

The variable produced by England and Wales distinguishes between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages and civil-partnerships.

What does broadly comparable mean?

A variable that is broadly comparable means that outputs from Census 2021 in England and Wales can generally be compared with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Differences in how the data were collected or presented may reduce the ability to fully harmonise on outputs, but some harmonisation is still expected.

Find out more about variables produced for Census 2021 in Northern Ireland and Census 2022 in Scotland.

Census 2021 data that uses this variable

We use variables from Census 2021 data to show findings in different ways.

You can:

Alternatively, you can also create a custom dataset.

Other datasets that use this variable