Census 2021 milestones

Key milestones for the successful delivery of Census 2021 in NI. 

NISRA is striving to ensure that all elements of Census 2021 run smoothly. Throughout the programme, there are key milestones that identify important stages for the successful delivery of Census 2021.

The following table highlights the milestones that NISRA is aiming to meet. All dates are subject to change and may be updated as we progress towards and beyond Census Day in March 2021.  

Milestone Date Description Status Supporting information
2019 census rehearsal evaluation (collection) Summer 2020 Evaluation of the rehearsal data collection operation to identify what worked well and where improvements are needed for Census 2021; evaluation report to be published in summer 2020. Ongoing 2019 rehearsal evaluation
National Statistics Accreditation – NISRA response to Phase 1 recommendations June 2020 Release of report detailing the NISRA response to the recommendations made by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) following Phase 1 of its assessment of Census 2021. Ongoing Accreditation of Census 2021
Completion of legislative process Summer 2020 For the secondary legislation needed to conduct Census 2021 in NI, the Census Order and Regulations are drafted and laid before the NI Assembly. Ongoing Census 2021 legistation
Field staff recruitment commences  Summer 2020 Process to recruit the various staff required to conduct the Census 2021 field operation. Ongoing  
Stakeholder engagement event Winter 2020/21 Proposed engagement event to update stakeholders and users on Census 2021 developments.     
Field operation commences January 2021 Census 2021 field operation begins with Census Team Coordinators commencing their activities.    
Census 2021 advertising campaign February to May 2021 Main campaign advertising and promoting participation in Census 2021 throughout NI.    
Census letters sent to all households and communal establishments (CEs) February and March 2021 Start dates for mailing out paper contact letters (to households) and packs (to CEs).    
Census live data collection phase Early March to end June 2021
(Census Day 21 March)
Period of live data collection for Census 2021.    
National Statistics Accreditation – Phase 2 Report published Spring 2021 NISRA submission to OSR for assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics through quality assuring Census 2021 statistics and providing value to users.    
Closure of field operation June 2021 End of the non-response follow-up operation.    
Data processing March 2021 to July 2022 Completion and delivery of processed and quality assured response data for outputs production.     
Release of first standard outputs – population and household estimates Summer 2022 NISRA planning an earlier release of Census 2021 outputs compared to Census 2011; proposed publication of NI-level population and household estimates in summer 2022.     
Release of other standard outputs Summer 2022 to summer 2023 Subsequent releases of key statistics and detailed characteristics at different levels of geography.    
Release of remaining outputs and specialist products Summer 2023 onwards Including outputs for alternative populations, the Grid Square Product and various microdata products.