Legislation

Information on legislation associated with the 2021 Census in Northern Ireland, includes a statement of agreement between the National Statistician and the Registrars General for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Censuses in Northern Ireland are governed by the Census Act (Northern Ireland) 1969.

Census Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

The Census Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 came into operation on 17 July 2020.

The Census Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 enable the Census Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 to be carried into effect and sets out in detail key elements of the Census process. The purpose of the Census Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 is to:

  • make provision for the operational arrangements and procedures necessary for the conduct of the 2021 Census
  • prescribe the paper questionnaires and provide details on the various online questionnaires that will be used in Schedules to the Regulations

Census Order (Northern Ireland) 2020

The Census Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 was laid before the Assembly in draft and approved on 5 May 2020. While the Department of Finance has central authority for the conduct of the census, the Census Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 specifies that the First Minister and deputy First Minister must first direct that a census is taken. This Order directs that a census should be taken in 2021. 

The Census Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 was approved by the Executive Office Committee at its 12 March 2020 meeting and was further approved by the Department of Finance Committee on 18 March 2020.

Introduction of the Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill

On 1 May 2019, the Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords. The Bill will amend the Census Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Schedule as matters on which questions may be asked in the census and to remove the penalty for not responding to these questions if asked.  The Registrar General’s 2021 Census Proposals Document published on 3 April 2019 sets out plans for the next census in Northern Ireland.  It is proposed that a question on sexual orientation is asked for the first time in the 2021 Census and this legislation will ensure that this question would be answered on a voluntary basis.

The conduct of the 2021 Censuses in the UK

UPDATE: A statement of agreement between the National Statistician and the Registrars General for Scotland and Northern Ireland - November 2019

UPDATE: A statement of agreement between the National Statistician and the Registrars General for Scotland and Northern Ireland - November 2016

This is a statement of agreement, similar to the one for the 2011 Census, between the National Statistician and the Registrars General for Scotland and Northern Ireland about the conduct of the 2021 Censuses.

The statement outlines a number of principles where the three census offices will work in unison to ensure the 2021 Censuses are a success in providing high-quality population and housing statistics for the UK, meeting the needs of data users and reflecting UN-ECE, Eurostat and other international requirements.

This statement ensures that the independent censuses carried out in each constituent country of the UK are able to provide consistent and high-quality statistics that meet user requirements for UK level data.

2021 Census - Consultative arrangements

The working arrangement between Central Statistics Office, Ireland & Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency on consultative arrangements for 2021 Census.