Release plans for Census 2021 statistics
Census 2021 Grid Square product for Northern Ireland will be available at 9.30 am on 14 December 2023.
Census 2021 data for settlement and ward geographies in Northern Ireland was released for selected main statistics tables at 9.30 am on 30 November 2023.
Census 2021 data on approximated social grade for Northern Ireland was also released at 9.30 am on 30 November 2023.
Census 2021 data for the new parliamentary constituencies (PARLCON2024) were added to the Flexible Table Builder on 26 September 2023.
Summary of the release plans
Table 1 provides a summary of the release plans. More detail on the content of each of the Census 2021 releases is outlined after the table. The exact date of each release of outputs depends upon the ongoing processing, coding and quality assurance of census data.
A PDF version of the Census 2021 outputs prospectus is also available to download.
If you have comments on this outputs prospectus, email us at email@example.com.
Census data collection was carried out safely and effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had impacts on our population and census outputs will help us understand them. As we produce census outputs, we will aim to present commentary on the impacts of the pandemic on our population.
This page will be updated as more information becomes available. It was last updated on 30 November 2023. Details of the changes made can be found in the updates register.
|Release||Title and content||Planned release||Geography|
Population and Household Statistics:
Headline population statistics by age and sex, number of households with usual residents, and communal establishment population. Estimates in this release will be published in rounded form.
|Published on 24 May 2022||Northern Ireland|
|Release 1 – additional geographies||
Population and Household Statistics (small area geographies)
Headline population and household data for Data Zones (DZ), Super Data Zones (SDZ) and District Electoral Areas (DEA).
|Published on 21 Feb 2023||District Electoral Area, Super Data Zone and Data Zone|
|Release 1 – postcodes||
Population and Household Statistics (postcodes)
Estimates of usual residents and households for unit level postcodes, postcode sectors and districts in Northern Ireland.
|TBC||Unit level postcodes, postcode sectors and districts|
|Release 2 – Phase 1||
Main Statistics (Phase 1):
Key statistics for ethnicity; country of birth; passports held; religion; religion or religion brought up in; national identity; and language.
This release will include finalised, unrounded estimates for population and household statistics.
|Published on 22 September 2022||Northern Ireland and Local Government District|
|Release 2 – Phase 2||
Main Statistics (Phase 2):
Key statistics for health, disability and unpaid care, and housing and accommodation.
|Published on 15 December 2022||Northern Ireland and Local Government District|
|Release 2 – Phase 3||
Main Statistics (Phase 3):
Key statistics for marital and civil partnership status, household composition and living arrangements, sexual orientation, qualifications, labour market, travel to work or study, communal establishments, and migration.
|Published on 21 March 2023||Northern Ireland and Local Government District|
|Release 2 - supplemental||
Main Statistics (supplemental):
Release will include an additional set of main statistics tables from Census 2021, including further detail on a number of census topics for Northern Ireland, such as, demography, ethnicity, national identity, language and religion.
|Published on 31 May 2023||Various geographies|
|Release 2 - additional geographies||
Main Statistics (settlements and wards)
Publication of a selection of main statistics tables for settlement and ward geographies.
|Published on 30 November 2023||Settlement and ward|
|Release 2 – additional topic||
Main Statistics (approximated social grade)
Publication of Census 2021 data for approximated social grade in Northern Ireland.
|Published on 30 November 2023||Various geographies|
|Release 3 – Phase 1||
Selected multivariate data
Publication of a selection of multivariate tables ahead of the release of the Flexible Table Builder, topics will include religion, national identity and economic activity.
Published on 31 May 2023
Flexible Table Builder
Publication of an online application that will incorporate variables for all census topics to allow users flexibility to build tables on demand.
|Published on 22 June 2023||
All available geographies
|Release 3 - Phase 3||
Flexible Table Builder update
Data for the new parliamentary constituencies will be added to the Flexible Table Builder.
|Published on 26 September 2023||Parliamentary Constituency 2024|
Census 2021 Grid Square Product
This release will include spatial lookups based on a Grid Squares aggregation method.
|Planned for 14 December 2023||100 metre and 1 kilometre grids|
Census 2021 First Release: Population and Household Statistics
The first release of Census 2021 statistics was published at 9.30 am on 24 May 2022 and is available via the NISRA website. The statistics are published in rounded form and include the following:
- the population of Northern Ireland by age and sex;
- the household and communal establishment population of Northern Ireland; and
- the number of households for Northern Ireland.
Census Office published a statistical bulletin alongside the first release of Census 2021 statistics. This highlights key trends or changes in our population and housing. Data visualisations, such as population pyramids, were also provided. There is also information on the changes in the Northern Ireland population from Census 1851 to Census 2021.
Census population statistics will be complemented by the NISRA population estimates series. Population estimates roll forward census statistics and adjust for components of population change (such as births, deaths and migration) to provide estimates of the population, by age and sex, at 30 June each year. The latest release of NISRA population estimates took place on 29 November 2022.
Two new statistical output geographies – Data Zones (similar to Census 2011 Small Areas) and Super Data Zones (similar to Census 2011 Super Output Areas) have been developed for Census 2021.
Users can download digital boundaries for:
A number of information papers explaining how the new geographies have been developed and how other Northern Ireland geographies can be approximated are also available.
Person and household estimates from Census 2021 were published at 9.30 am on 21 February 2023 to accompany this release, and are available for Data Zones, Super Data Zones and District Electoral Areas.
Census 2021 person and household estimates for postcodes in Northern Ireland
This release will include estimates of usual residents and households for unit level postcodes, postcode sectors and districts in Northern Ireland.
Further details on the release of the postcode data will be published in due course.
Census 2021 Second Release: Main Statistics
The second release of Census 2021 statistics will be in phases. These will include key summary statistics for each of the main census topics for a number of geographies including Northern Ireland, Local Government Districts.
All tables in this release will be based on either the usual resident population, households containing usual residents, or on household spaces. Tables will be primarily univariate statistics, meaning they will contain data from just one variable.
The current planned table specifications for the second release are provided in Census 2021 draft table specifications for main statistics (Excel, 172 KB). The table specifications will be subject to update as table layouts are finalised.
Main Statistics (Phase1)
Main statistics (Phase 1) were published at 9.30 am on 22 September 2022. This release included a number of census topics:
- country of birth
- national identity and passports held
- religion, religion or religion brought up in
- language (main, and knowledge of Irish and Ulster-Scots)
- finalised, unrounded estimates for the population and household statistics published in the first release
Final table layouts (Excel, 285 KB) for this release are available to download.
Main Statistics (Phase 2)
Main Statistics (phase 2) were published at 9.30 am on 15 December 2022. This release included a number of census topics:
- health, disability and unpaid care
- housing and accommodation
Final table layouts (Excel, 123 KB) for this release are available to download.
Main Statistics (Phase 3)
Main Statistics (phase 3) were published at 9.30 am on 21 March 2023. This release included a number of census topics:
- marital and civil partnership status
- household composition and living arrangements
- sexual orientation
- labour market
- travel to work or study
- communal establishments
Final table layouts (Excel, 142 KB) for this release are available to download.
Main Statistics (supplemental)
Main statistics (supplemental) were published at 9.30 am on 31 May 2023. This release included an additional set of main statistics tables from Census 2021, providing further detail on a number of census topics:
- national identity
- religion, religion or religion brought up in
- sexual orientation
- housing and accommodation
- labour market
Final table layouts (Excel, 15 MB) for this release are available to download.
Main Statistics (settlements and wards)
Census 2021 data for settlement and electoral ward geographies in Northern Ireland was published for selected main statistics tables at 9.30 am on 30 November 2023.
A two stage process using spatial analysis techniques was used to assign Census 2021 usual residents to settlements: Data Zone approximation and Grid Square approximation. More information on this process is available in our Settlement methodology paper.
Data for the current electoral wards, based on a grid square aggregation method, are also part of this release.
Census 2021 data for approximated social grade in Northern Ireland was published at 9.30 am on 30 November 2023.
Census 2021 Third Release: Flexible Table Builder and multivariate data
Given the revised timescales for census dissemination, and as most of the information planned for the multivariate data release can be serviced by the Flexible Table Builder, Census Office merged the previously titled ‘Census 2021 Third release: Multivariate Data Tables’ and ‘Census 2021 Fourth Release: Flexible Table Builder’ into one multi-phase release. The table list in Census 2021 table specifications for multivariate statistics (Excel, 24 KB) includes an indication of the tables that will be available in the Flexible Table Builder.
The Flexible Table Builder includes variables for all census topics across a range of geographies including Local Government Districts, District Electoral Areas, Super Data Zones and Data Zones. These data are available to cross-tabulate within the system, allowing users to produce their own multivariate data tables on demand, within set table disclosure rules.
Multivariate tables which cannot be serviced by the Flexible Table Builder can be requested through the Census 2021 commissioned table service. Further details on when this service will be available will be published in due course.
The delivery of the Flexible Table Builder and multivariate data will be split over two main phases. Additional phases will extend the data and geographies available to users.
Flexible Table Builder and multivariate data (phase 1) – Selected multivariate tables for Northern Ireland
In advance of the release of the Flexible Table Builder, a small set of multivariate tables were made available to users at 9.30 am on 31 May 2023. The tables show the type of information that the Flexible Table Builder will provide. These tables are at Northern Ireland level and include topics such as religion, national identity and economic activity.
Final table layouts (Excel, 40KB) for this release are available to download.
Flexible Table Builder and multivariate data (phase 2) – Flexible Table Builder
Census Office launched the Flexible Table Builder on 22 June 2023. This new tool allows users to build Census 2021 tables for Northern Ireland on demand, users can modify tables by selecting the geographic level of interest (including the new Data Zone and Super Data Zone geographies) and then adding individual or multiple census variables. There is also a facility to find ready-made Census 2021 tables that can be adapted to suit user requirements.
The Flexible Table Builder allows for some settlement data, specifically those approximated from Data Zones. Smaller settlements, approximated from Grid Square, are included in the Main statistics (settlements and wards) released on 30 November 2023.
Flexible Table Builder and multivariate data (phase 3) – new parliamentary constituency geography data
On 26 September 2023, Census 2021 data for the new parliamentary constituencies (PARLCON2024) was added to the Flexible Table Builder.
Additional releases (staged from winter 2023/2024)
Census 2021 Statistics for Grid Squares
To support the examination of trends over time, Census Office has published grid square statistics for the last five censuses (since 1971). The geographic base for these outputs is the Irish Grid, and census statistics are produced for 100 metre and 1 kilometre grids. A Census 2021 Grid Square product will be produced for person and household counts for the combination of 1km and 100m grid squares. Furthermore, as with Census 2011, the published Census 2021 Grid Square product will provide a more restricted range of mainly univariate outputs compared to the standard outputs; this is to ensure the confidentiality of individual census returns.
The development of a Census 2021 Grid Square product is underway, along with an assessment of the accuracy of a Grid Squares aggregation method to produce a spatial look up between Grid Squares and geographies which were unsuitable for the Data Zone aggregation method. Census 2021 Grid Square product for Northern Ireland will be available at 9.30 am on 14 December 2023.
Census 2021 Specialist Releases
After the publication of the main releases, a number of specialist products will be created.
Census 2021 Microdata products
A Census 2021 microdata strategy has been published on the NISRA website. The microdata strategy sets out the delivery of Census 2021 microdata products, including:
- The Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) – NILS is a dataset incorporating a sample of data from the 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 Censuses. Census Office will enhance this resource with data from Census 2021.
- Samples of anonymised records, including:
- Teaching microdata file – A publicly available microdata file containing anonymised records on a limited set of variables for a random sample of 1% of individuals from Census 2021 for Northern Ireland.
- Safeguarded microdata file – A safeguarded microdata file which will consist of a random sample of 5% of individuals from Census 2021 for Northern Ireland. This file will not be made publicly available and will only be made available under licence and control from Census Office.
- Secure microdata file – The secure microdata file will consist of two random samples of 10%, one a sample of the individuals and one a sample of households from the 2021 Census for Northern Ireland. This file will not be made publicly available and will only be made available under licence and control from Census Office.
- Census 2021 origin-destination data - Origin-destination data from the census provides aggregate statistics from census returns on the movement of people from one location to another. Examples include migration (address one year ago) and workplace or place of study flows.
Initial proposals for other planned specialist products are listed below with more detailed plans for these specialist releases still in development. These plans will also be published when available. If you wish to request further information on any specialist release, or you have proposals for a different one, please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Census 2021 Specialist release – UK Armed Forces veterans
By using information from the Ministry of Defence with census data, Census Office will create a number of tables on UK Armed Forces veterans living in Northern Ireland. These statistics will be subject to enhanced disclosure control, but where possible will include statistics on veteran status by demography, employment status, qualifications and health, disability and unpaid care. Further details of these plans will be released as they become available.
Census 2021 Alternative population base statistics
Alternative population bases relate to statistics on the various locations where individuals were counted in Census 2021. Examples include place of study or daytime populations.
Clearly, there will be effects of the coronavirus pandemic on such data. As the Census provides a snapshot in time, and captures patterns at census day, final plans for these datasets are still in development. Further details will be released as they become available.
United Kingdom 2021/22 Census data
The Northern Ireland and Scotland Registrars General and the United Kingdom National Statistician released a "Statement of Agreement" on the conduct of the 2021 round of UK censuses. Whilst the census in Scotland was held in March 2022, officials are still planning for 2021/22 United Kingdom census data outputs to be produced.
This work is being driven by a UK census data group. If you use United Kingdom census data and wish to contribute to this group please get in touch via email at email@example.com.
Ireland and Northern Ireland 2021/22 Census data
NISRA and Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ireland, presented a joint Ireland and Northern Ireland 2011 Census report (PDF 5.6 MB). This presented analysis across demography, ethnicity, place of birth, religion, health and care, housing and travel to work or study.
In 2018 an agreement between the CSO Director General and the Registrar General was signed on Census 2021. Whilst the census in the Republic of Ireland was held in April 2022, officials are still planning to produce a joint report on statistics from the 2021/22 censuses.
Where it is not possible for users to create the outputs they need themselves, users can request that Census Office produce and supply them. The statistics will only be released if the requested data passes statistical disclosure checks. This service is planned to start in early 2024.
Further details on this service will be published in due course.
Census Office will, where possible, produce bespoke tables for small populations. Small populations can be defined by country of birth, ethnic group, religion, or any other characteristic or geography recorded on the census form. If you wish to request bespoke tables for a small population group please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NISRA Population and Migration estimates
After each census, NISRA revise the annual population estimates series. A revision exercise using the results of Census 2021 will also be carried out. Details on the timeline for the release of population estimates is on the population statistics work plan page of the NISRA website.