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Following a Government decision, please note that the next census has been postponed from 18 April 2021 to 3 April 2022 due to the pandemic.

Public Consultation on Questionnaire Content

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) invited submissions on the content of the questionnaire for the then 2021 census during a public consultation process that ran from 5th October 2017 to 3rd November 2017.

As part of the public consultation process, persons and organisations were asked to include their suggested wording for the question, bearing in mind ease of completion and avoidance of ambiguity in interpretation.  All submissions required a detailed justification for each proposal with reference to the following:

  • The purpose of the user need and a description of the analysis that will be required

  • The specific need for the data at a small area level

  • The specific need for data for small population groups

  • Any legal or EU requirements for the data

  • The requirement for cross tabular analysis

As the 2016 census was run as a no change census, this was the first public consultation on the content of the census questionnaire since 2008. Over 400 submissions were received from members of the public, interest groups, government departments, local authorities, other public bodies as well as research and academic communities.

Census Advisory Group and Census Pilot Survey

The CSO convened a Census Advisory Group (CAG), the membership of which was reflective of the key users of census data.  It comprised of representatives of Government departments, local authorities, public bodies, the social partners, universities and research institutes, as well as CSO personnel.  The CAG was responsible for examining the submissions and determining new questions or changes to existing questions. 

The first meeting of the CAG took place on 12th December, 2017. A robust and informative discussion took place on the submissions received. In reviewing the submissions, consideration was given to EU regulations, possible alternative sources of data and the practicality of the questions proposed. Consideration was also given to the necessity to provide data at a small area level, the burden on respondents and the cost of processing census data. 

View or download the minutes from the first CAG meeting Minutes from first CAG meeting (PDF 141KB)  ‌‌

In order to assist in the framing of the Religion, Ethnicity and Disability/Health questions, a decision was made to set up three separate subgroups.  CAG members were invited to send representatives to the subgroups and the CSO invited additional stakeholders.  All three subgroups met on 22nd January, 2018 and the findings of these groups were presented to the second CAG meeting on 21st February, 2018.

View or download the minutes from the second CAG meeting Minutes from second CAG meeting (PDF 172KB)

Census Pilot Survey took place in September 2018 in which census enumeration procedures and the proposed new questionnaire content were tested. Over 10,000 households took part in 35 enumeration areas spread over seven counties.

The final meeting of the CAG took place on March 15th, 2019 where the results of the Census Pilot Survey were discussed and the proposed new and changed questions for the 2021 census form were agreed. 

Census Date and Form Content Approved

The next stage in the process was to seek Government approval for the content of the next census form and the census date for 2021.  Approval was granted in early July 2019 and the census date was to be Sunday, 18th April, 2021.  (As noted above, following a Government decision, the next census has been postponed to 3 April 2022 due to the pandemic.)

Press release that announced Census 2021 date and content.

Census Pilot Survey Report

The full report on the Census Pilot Survey has been published.

Census Pilot Survey Report 2018 (PDF 3,018KB)

Census 2022 Household Form (Sample only)

Sample Census 2022 Household Form (PDF 4,886KB)

Further Information

View or download both versions of the 2018 Census Pilot Survey tested.  Sample Form A     Sample Form B

A complete list of the 2016 questions, along with an indicator of whether or not the question is required under EU regulation (EC) No. 763/2008, can be viewed here Questions on the 2016 Census of Population (PDF 33KB)

View or download a copy of the 2016 census form Household form (PDF 2,170KB)

Further information on EU Regulation (EC) No. 763/2008 can be found here