Mnemonic: intention_to_stay
Applicability: Person
Type: Standard variable


How long a person not born in the UK who most recently arrived on or after 21 March 2021 intend to stay. This includes the time they have already spent in the UK.


Total number of categories: 3

Code Name
1 Will stay in UK less than 12 months
2 Will stay in UK more than 12 months
-8 Does not apply*

*Students and schoolchildren living away during term-time.

Question asked

Including the time you have already spent here, how long do you intend to stay in the United Kingdom?

  • Less than 12 months
  • 12 months or more

In Census 2021 "6 to 12 months" was removed from the list of options that people could choose from.


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

Why we ask the question

The answers help local authorities work out the number of people living in their area on a short-term or long-term basis. They can use this information to make sure they provide the right services for communities.

The length of time that a person plans to spend living in the UK may affect how they live within their community. This includes how members of a community interact with each other. Local authorities can use this information to assess the needs of migrants living in their area. People's needs for things like services, jobs or training may change depending on how long they live in the country.

The census first asked this question in 2011.

Comparability with the 2011 Census

Broadly comparable

We have made changes to the options people could choose from in the questionnaire. This means that it is not possible to tell the difference between “2 to 5 months short-term residents” and “6 to 11 months short-term residents” when comparing to 2011 Census data.

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

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

Census 2021 data that uses this variable