National Records of Scotland

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Final opportunity for census return

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Final opportunity for census return

Thursday, 28 Apr 2022
Photo of a postal worker delivering census letter

Householders across Scotland are being offered a short extension until the end of May to complete their census return, National Records of Scotland (NRS) confirmed today.

By allowing outstanding online and paper returns to be submitted over a further four weeks, NRS is ensuring that everyone across the country has the opportunity to complete their return and help to shape important services in their community. Around 68,000 households have begun their census returns online but have not yet been completed and a similar number of requested paper forms have yet to be returned.

Every household is legally required to complete their returns and people living in Scotland are reminded that failing to do so could result in prosecution and a fine of up to £1000.

Angus Robertson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture said:

“We have now seen well over two million household returns across Scotland and I want to say a huge thank you to those who have done so. However, it's essential we maximise participation and ensure that everyone is heard and their needs captured. That is why the census completion site will be left open, support will remain in place and NRS will continue to accept paper returns for this short extension period. We know that there are many people who have begun the census online but haven’t completed it, and that thousands of others have requested a paper copy but haven’t yet returned it.

“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, I would urge them to act now.”

National Records of Scotland Chief Executive Paul Lowe added:

“With the 1st May deadline approaching we are continuing to receive a high volume of census returns both online and in paper and each day our contact centre is continuing to support many householders keen to submit their returns. We want to maximise this ongoing enthusiasm and support from across the nation to complete the census and so have put in place a short extension to ensure everyone’s return counts.

“Help and support to complete your census 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 enumeration of some specific communal establishments for a period of 3-4 weeks in their 2021 census. An extension to the census collection period remains a legitimate, and often used, process to facilitate engagement with the census process.