National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Census returns reach 80% as deadline extension takes effect

Census returns reach 80% as deadline extension takes effect

Wednesday, 4 May 2022
Image of postal worker delivering census notification letter

Eight out of ten households have now submitted their census returns, National Records of Scotland (NRS) confirmed today.

Following the announcement last week by Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, that the deadline to submit responses is to be extended to the end of May, well over 2.1m households (80%) have now filled in their census either online or in paper form.

Every household has a legal responsibility to complete their census; failure to do so could result in prosecution and a fine of up to £1000.

Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson said:

"By allowing outstanding online and paper returns to be submitted until the end of May, we can ensure that everyone across the country has the opportunity to complete their return and help to shape important services in their community.

"Thank you to everyone who has filled in their census already. It is vital that we secure as high a response rate as possible so that the census can be effective in delivering its many benefits for future public services. For anyone that hasn’t completed their census, please fill it in now."

Paul Lowe, Chief Executive for National Records of Scotland said:

"Thank you to the eight out of ten householders across Scotland who have already done their bit and filled in their census. Can I pay particular tribute to the people of Aberdeenshire, South Ayrshire and Na h-Eileanan Siar where over 85% of households have completed and returned their census.

"If you’ve been holding off submitting - for whatever reason - please don’t miss this final opportunity to submit your response. Help and support is available on our website or via our free helpline 0800 030 8308. Paper forms are also still available on request for those who need them."

The 2022 census will benefit Scotland for many years; it asks questions on a range of topics, including the types of accommodation people stay in, household relationships, age, sex, health and employment status. New questions for the 2022 census include use of British Sign Language (BSL), passports held, previous armed forces history and new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and trans status.


An extension to the census collection period has occurred internationally. Countries including Poland, Japan and the United States of America have all taken similar steps in recent years to ensure maximum participation. England and Wales also extended their collection in respect of specific communal establishments for a period of 3-4 weeks after closure of in their 2021 census and returns in Northern Ireland continued to be accepted after the closing date. An extension to the census collection period remains a legitimate, and often used, process to facilitate engagement with the census process.