Scotland's Census 2022: What is it and why is it important?

This year, Scotland will do a count of its population. This is also known as a census.

This usually happens once every decade. Its purpose is to count every person and household in the country and collect valuable information to help improve services in Scotland. 

In Scotland, the National Records of Scotland is responsible for the census.

What is a census?

Scotland's census is a questionnaire which asks every household in Scotland questions to help build up a picture of what Scotland's population is like and the types of people who live here.

Except for 1941, there has been a census in Scotland every 10 years since 1801. The census in Scotland moved from 2021 to 2022 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is Scotland's Census important?

The information that comes from the census gives a snapshot of Scotland and the people living here. This helps the Scottish Government and other service providers to make important decisions using the data.

This can include how money is spent on:

  • schools,
  • roads,
  • hospitals,
  • and much more!

Read more on Scotland's Census website and learn about individual case studies which show how data from the census can help communities.

Do you have to complete the census?

Yes. Every household in Scotland has a legal responsibility to complete a census questionnaire.

You may be the person responsible for doing this, or it could be someone else you live with. Find out more in our guide to completing the census.

When will Scotland's Census 2022 open?

From 28 February, every household in Scotland will receive a letter with information on how to complete the census and will be able to start filling it in online at

Census day will be Sunday 20 March 2022, but you can fill out the census as soon as you get your letter. Just make sure your answers reflect your household on 20 March.

Filling out Scotland's Census 2022

The letter you receive from 28 February will include instructions on how to fill in the census, along with your unique internet access code, which you will need to complete the census.

Find out more about how to take part with your household, and information for students living away from home.

What happens to information in the census

Before any census data is published, all personal information is removed so people cannot be identified by their responses.

More information

The letter you receive will have all the information you need to help you fill out the census.

The census completion website, provides additional help and support.