Overview 

The responsibility of running censuses in the UK is split between three agencies: 

ONS is responsible for disseminating census statistics for the UK.

Get 2011 UK census data 

The last UK census was in March 2011. You can: 

Census 2021 and 2022 UK data 

Census 2021 took place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in March 2021. Scotland's census took place in March 2022. We are working closely with NISRA and NRS to publish comparable data from across the UK.

Harmonisation of UK data 

Harmonisation is a requirement of the Code of Practice for Statistics. This means that statistics, data and metadata should be: 

  • consistent, for example using the same definitions and terms across different data sources and statistics 

  • comparable, for example being aware of the differences in data or statistics 

  • coherent, for example how well data and statistics can be combined in different ways and for different uses  

Working together with other agencies 

We have worked closely with the Welsh Government, NISRA and NRS to ensure the censuses taking place across the UK in 2021 and 2022 are as consistent as possible. Read more about how we are working together in: 

We also have topic-based harmonisation working groups. The aim of these meetings is to harmonise so that we can publish as much UK-wide census data as possible. 

There will be some differences between the censuses across the UK, such as: 

  • what questions were asked 

  • how the data are processed 

  • some of the methodologies used 

Details about what the differences are and impacts they have on comparability of data, will be published on each UK census offices' website. 

Publication of Census 2021 and 2022 UK data 

The publication of UK Census 2021 and 2022 outputs is dependent on the availability of Scotland's Census 2022 data. In summer 2022, NRS will be asking for feedback about their plans. This will include their proposed release plan for Scotland's Census 2022 data. We will then share our proposed plans for UK census outputs.

Changes to UK outputs 

We are working with UK census offices to produce guidance on the comparability of outputs at various levels. This will include information on: 

  • the level of harmonisation possible, including the time difference  

  • making direct comparisons for small areas across the UK 

  • combining data to get totals for the UK 

We will base mid-2021 UK population estimates on "rolled-forward" estimates from the 2021 Censuses for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and the 2011 Census for Scotland. 

We will continue to supply UK census data to the United Nations project on the Population and Housing Census. There is no longer a requirement to submit UK census data to Eurostat.

UK data user feedback 

A data user working group has been set up for UK census data for 2021 and 2022. The group is an opportunity for census offices and data users to work together and give feedback. 

Membership includes: 

  • the UK census offices 

  • academia 

  • research 

  • local authorities and county councils 

  • central government 

  • charities 

  • commercial organisations 

If you are interested in joining this group or sharing feedback about what you need from UK data, please email census.outputs@ons.gov.uk

In summer 2021, we asked data users and members of the working group if they needed combined outputs for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland before Scotland's census results are published. Based on the feedback, comparable data will be provided once data are available for the whole of the UK. You can read more about our consultation on the content design and release of Census 2021 outputs for England and Wales on our consultation website.

What UK census data are used for 

The information we gather from the census across England and Wales helps a range of organisations plan for the future. For example, local government use the information to help plan services, such as schools, hospitals and refuse collection in your area. Businesses use it to decide where to locate, which create job opportunities. Charities also use census information to help get the funding they need. 

When this is combined with data from similar censuses taken in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it means comparisons can be made between small areas across the countries of the UK.

More information  

Read more about the 2011 UK Censuses and about UK data from UK Data Service census support

Visit Scotland's UK data page and Northern Ireland's UK data page.