The Office for National Statistics (ONS) conducts studies of representative samples of households and individuals to build a full and accurate picture of society and the economy.

Central and local government, businesses, community organisations and many others rely on this information to help them make decisions that affect the lives of everyone living and working in the UK.

This charter aims to explain what people who are asked to take part in our surveys, or a survey we conduct on behalf of another organisation, can expect from us. We sometimes commission other research organisations to carry out surveys on our behalf: the Crime Survey for England and Wales is currently being carried out by Kantar Public. To find out more about Kantar Public's commitment please go to the Kantar Public website.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we changed the way we normally work to keep the public and our staff safe. You can read more about these changes in our statement on ensuring your safety during COVID-19.  In addition, since April 2020, the ONS has been jointly leading a major study to track the presence of COVID-19 in the population. We have also set up online studies to supplement information we would normally have collected face-to-face. Because of the size of studies required to respond to the challenges experienced during the pandemic, in some cases, we have needed to select the same address for more than one survey in the same year. Thank you for your understanding in helping us to meet the nation's needs during this time.

We welcome your views on this charter and your suggestions about how we can improve our surveys.

We would also like to hear from you if you are happy with the service you have received.

You can email us at

If you have been asked to take part in one of our surveys, or a survey we conduct on behalf of another organisation, what can you expect from us?

We will value your time and contribution

This means that we will:

  • make sure each survey is necessary and that we could not collect that information in any other way

  • only ask as many people to take part as necessary for the accuracy of our statistics

  • only select the same address for more than one survey in a year when required 

  • when interviewing you in your home or by telephone, arrange a time convenient to you

  • design our surveys so that we take as little of your time as possible

We will treat you with respect

This means that we will:

  • try to make the experience of taking part in a survey as straightforward and as worthwhile as possible

  • be honest with you about your participation being voluntary and give you a realistic idea of how long the survey may take

  • remember that you have kindly taken the time to speak to us -- in your home, on the phone or in a port or airport -- and respect your privacy

  • identify ourselves as from ONS whenever we contact you, displaying our logo on all letters and leaflets and on our interviewers' photo ID cards

  • set high standards for our staff, through the rigour and quality of our recruitment, training, and management practices

  • ensure everyone can take part in our surveys, including people with impairments and non-English speakers

We will communicate with you and listen to your views

This means that we will:

  • provide information on our website to help you understand the background to the survey and explain what taking part will involve

  • provide a freephone line with operators who can answer your questions

  • make sure our interviewers can explain to you how you have been selected to take part, what the survey is about and how the results are used

  • provide a means for you to tell us what you think about taking part and respond quickly and fairly to any issues you raise

We will keep your information secure and confidential

This means that we will:

  • recognise that you are sharing personal information with us and treat it as confidential, as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics

  • only use your information for statistical purposes, or to help us run our surveys, and not publish anything that identifies an individual, household or business

  • only hold your information for as long as it is being used for producing statistics

  • provide survey information to other government departments, approved organisations and approved researchers for statistical purposes only, subject to the same standards of protection we apply (and according to the provisions of the Data Protection Legislation, the Statistics and Registration Services Act and the Code of Practice for Statistics)

  • sometimes share selected information with our service providers to help us run our surveys; we only share the personal details they need to know, such as your address for delivering letters or contact details for getting in touch (for more information, please go to the Household and individual surveys page to read about the survey that you have been selected for)

  • ensure our staff are aware of their obligations to protect your confidential information

  • maintain the security of our systems and our buildings

Thank you for taking part in one of our surveys. We look forward to hearing what you thought of your experience. You can email us at

Where can I find out more about how my information will be treated?

If you have a question about how we process your personal data or want to find out more about your rights under data protection legislation, please see our data protection page.

Sometimes we collect information on behalf of another organisation. For more information about how your data will be treated in these circumstances, please go to the Household and individual surveys page to read about the survey that you've been selected for.