using laptop in a library

Scotland's Census 2021 is going online!

Census 2021 will be the first to be conducted in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland primarily online.


In Scotland, this significant and innovative change to the Census is being led by National Records of Scotland (NRS). To achieve this, NRS will be reliant on high quality address data, provided by each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.


Accurate address and location information will allow NRS to carry out the population counts and analysis which are a cornerstone of the Census. In Scotland, address data is created and managed by local authorities who work with the Improvement Service to maintain the One Scotland Gazetteer. Royal Mail plays an important role in the creation of addresses with the allocation of the post code.


The Improvement Service collates and validates the data, before publishing the national address register – the One Scotland Gazetteer. The Improvement Service also works closely with Ordnance Survey to ensure that the most accurate and complete addressing dataset for Scotland is available and reaches a wide audience.


The Census is the only way in which key information is captured on all of Scotland’s population. The results from the Census shape public policy making and inform key decision making across the public and private sector. This includes the planning of schools, housing, health services and infrastructure by local authorities.


Census data is also used to benchmark mid-year population estimates, which are a key input to the planning and allocation of over £20 billion by the Scottish Government to local authorities and health boards each year.


Scotland’s local authorities therefore play a vital role in the success of the 2021 census, by ensuring that every address is included on their dataset and that households, residential institutions and businesses are identified and classified correctly so NRS can apply the correct enumeration procedures to them.


Paul Lowe, Registrar General for Scotland, said: “Scotland has relied on the census for over 200 years and it remains the best way to gather the information government, councils, NHS and other users need.


“We are relying on Scotland’s 32 local authorities to help make Scotland’s Census 2021 a success by ensuring the maximum number of households within Scotland are included in the address register, enabling us to correctly identify and enumerate households.”


Ron Wilkinson, One Scotland Gazetteer Custodian, added: “The extensive work of Scottish local government over many years in the management of land and property information has laid the groundwork for the most complete, robust and current source of address and location information available. This means that the Census is utilising the most comprehensive address information in Scotland.”