The census is carried out every ten years. The last one took place on Sunday 27 March 2011. Information on the 2011 census can be found on the Office for National Statistics website.
The first census in England and Wales took place in 1801 to help plan for the future and has been carried out every ten years ever since (except in 1941 during the Second World War). In England and Wales the census is planned and carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The census is an estimate of the population. Everyone is asked the same questions on the same day so that a snapshot of the population can be taken at one point in time. It is the only time every person and household is counted right across the UK.
The results of the census help government and local authorities to plan the services and resources people need, such as transport, housing, healthcare and education. The amount of money your council has to spend on these important services over the next ten years is directly influenced by population statistics from the census. That's why it is so important that everyone takes part.