Your Questions

What is the Census?

The census is an account of everybody in the country on census night.  On census night, everyone in the country must be included on a census form and be part of the official count of people and dwellings that usually happens every five years in Ireland.  The About Census 2016 section of this site gives more detailed information.

When is the 2016 Census?

The 2016 census will take place on the night of Sunday April 24, 2016 and will count all the people and households in the country on that night.

When was the previous Census?

The previous census took place on the night of Sunday April 10, 2011.  On that night everybody who was in the State had to be included in a census form, including people staying with friends or relatives, staying in a hotel, hospital, guesthouse or on board a vessel, for example.

Why do we have a Census?

The census will give a comprehensive picture of the social and living conditions of our people in 2016. Only a census can provide such complete detail. The census is not, however, an end in itself! Rather the results are essential tools for effective policy, planning and decision making purposes.

Ireland has been conducting Censuses of Population since 1821. This enables us to track developments over a long period with considerable accuracy. The census is therefore a fundamental part of our national heritage and collective knowledge.

What is the Census used for?

At national level current population statistics are essential for planning the provision of health care, education, employment, etc.  Regional figures are critical for determining regional policy and for the operation of regional authorities. The greatest strength of the census is the provision of detailed population figures at local level. These help to identify likely demand for schools and health care facilities, areas of relatively high unemployment, the best location for new shops, etc.  Article 16.2 of the Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) lays down that the total membership of Dáil Éireann depends on the population as measured by the census (i.e. 1 TD per 20,000 to 30,000 persons). Constituency reviews normally take place once the definitive results of the census have been published.

The census is also the only means of accurately measuring the exact extent of migration. By comparing the results of successive censuses, and taking account of the number of births and deaths that have occurred over the same period, we get an accurate measure of net migration (the difference between inward and outward migration).

Do I have to do it?

Yes. Everybody present in the country on Census Night must be included. This is the law.

But if you think about it, it is in everyone’s interest to be included in the Census. Being included means being included in Irish society and making sure that you are taken account of in the decisions that will be made about our future. If you are not included, you are invisible and the knowledge we will have about who we are will be wrong. And this will lead to wrong decisions for the future.

What do I have to do?

Your census enumerator will deliver your census form to your home sometime in the 3-4 weeks leading up to census day 24th April. You should keep this form in a safe place until census day. The enumerator will be happy to answer any queries you have about the form.

On census day you should complete the form in respect of each person in your household and sign the declaration at the end of the form when it is complete. Please keep it in a safe place until it is collected.  Your enumerator will call again in the 2-3 weeks after census day to collect your form. They will also be happy to assist you if you have had any difficulty in completing the form. You may satisfy yourself of the identity of the enumerator by asking to see their ID.

Click here to view the census formdetails of each of the questions  and a guide to completing the census form NALA Step by Step Guide.

What happens to my data?

When the enumerator collects your census form they summarise the details on the front section of the form and all the forms are returned securely to Census HQ. Over the following months each form is scanned and the data that you have provided in response to each of the census questions is recorded and checked. When all of the data has been recorded it is analysed to provide meaningful reports on a wide variety of statistics.

The census is a major undertaking for the CSO and contractors have been employed to assist with specialised parts of the work. For 2016 the contract for the provision of IT systems for scanning and processing the census has been awarded to the UK company CACI (UK) Ltd., following an open competitive procurement process under EU tendering procedures. However, the role of this company is limited to the provision of systems. Your census form will be processed by Officers of Statistics employed directly by the CSO. No-one else will have access to your census form.

Are outside contractors used to process my data?

The census is a major undertaking for the CSO and contractors are being employed to assist with specialised parts of the work. For 2016 the contract for the provision of IT systems for scanning and processing the census forms has been awarded to CACI (UK) Ltd. The role of this company is limited to the provision of IT systems and all census forms will be processed by Officers of Statistics employed directly by the CSO. No-one else will have access to your census form.

The contract to CACI UK Ltd. was awarded following an open procurement competition run under EU law. This is the fourth Irish census that CACI UK Ltd. have been involved in having first worked on the 2002 census and then again on the 2006 and 2011 censuses.

Why do I have to give my name?

It is necessary to provide your name so as to ensure that everyone in the household is included and to assist the householder in ensuring that the correct personal information for each individual is recorded. The name also helps identify where forms are missing or duplicated. Names may also assist in the identification of families within households.

In Census 2016, CSO will (for the first time) extract forenames and surnames from the census form. This will enable publication of new releases, including e.g. national and local (county) level data on the most common forenames and surnames, as well as more efficient use of existing official data. As with all other CSO data, the forename and surname data will remain confidential within the CSO, and will be used only for the production of statistics as outlined.

Do I have to give my contact details to my enumerator?

No. The enumerator may ask for personal details such as surname and telephone number but this is to help with the collection of the census forms. However, under the Statistics Act 1993 and Statistics (Census of Population) Order 2015, the questions on the census form must be answered in full.

How do you protect my data?

All of the information you will provide on your census form is completely confidential. This is guaranteed by law.
CSO has taken all possible security measures to ensure that census information is confidential. In particular:

  • Your census form will be collected and processed by Officers of Statistics employed directly by the CSO. No-one else will have access to your census form.
  • Your census details are protected by law. Under the Statistics Act 1993, the census returns must be treated as strictly confidential and may be used only for statistical purposes.
  • All Census 2016 forms will be processed in the CSO’s Census office in Swords, Co. Dublin, where all information is stored on a dedicated closed CSO network. This network is wholly owned by the CSO. The detailed census information will not be copied or otherwise removed from this network.

The census is important, not just for the CSO but for Ireland. It provides the up-to-date information needed for planning at local, regional and national level. Everyone should play their part by filling in the census from on April 24th. We guarantee that the information you give will be treated as strictly confidential and will only be used for statistical purposes.

Can I use the data?

Yes. Preliminary population data will be published within 3 months of census day and over the following 18 months a comprehensive range of statistics will be released covering the topics on which census data has been collected.  In addition detailed census data will be available to see and download from the CSO website and can be used by anyone free of charge. You can view and download census 2011 data here.

Census 2016 data will be available:

  • For a range of different topics covered by the questions
  • Analysed according to meaningful criteria for example age, sex, etc. with comparisons to previous censuses
  • For different geographical areas – for Ireland as a whole, by region, county, District Electoral Division and down to small area level.

Why are so many questions asked?

Every census includes questions on basic demographic and social topics such as age, sex, marital status, education, employment status and occupation. The census is a unique opportunity to gather valuable information and the CSO tries to maintain a balance between, on the one hand, the need for information and, on the other, minimising the burden on respondents. The household form contains questions relating to household characteristics and individuals. The responses to the questions on household characteristics provide important information on the quality of our housing stock.

Who carries out the Census?

The census is organised by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which employs a temporary field force of nearly 5,200 persons to carry out the census at local and regional level. Census forms are distributed to every household and communal establishment (e.g. hotels) by 4,660 census enumerators who also collect the completed census forms. All census enumerators carry ID cards.
Find out more about what is involved for CSO in organising a census available on the ‘About Census 2016’  page

Is it possible to fill out the census form online?

No, not for the 2016 census. The development of an internet response option would have entailed significant investment and resource allocation which was simply not available.

The census is a major logistical operation and facilitating internet and multi-mode response entails significant security and administrative developments in the areas of security, ensuring adequate bandwidth, non-response follow-up, processing duplicates, assessing mode affects among others. In the event there is a census in 2021 the CSO intends to move to a multi-mode response model which would include an internet response option.

How long will it take me to fill out my form?

The length of time it will take you to complete your census form will depend on the number of persons in the household.  It should take an average household less than 30 minutes to complete a census form.

How are census enumerators recruited?

The CSO has employed 5,140 field staff to assist with the distribution and collection of the census forms. All of the recruitment has been carried out directly by the CSO and complies with the strict recruitment principles regarding fairness, equality and transparency that apply to all public sector recruitment.

In making preparations for the recruitment of enumerators for the census, the possibility of giving preference to persons on the Live Register was actively examined by the CSO. However, in light of the need to conduct this recruitment within the strict recruitment principles that apply to all public sector appointments, in practice it has not been open to the CSO to discriminate in favour of any one group of people over another, be they on the Live Register or otherwise.

In selecting candidates for the positions of census enumerator, the CSO called  15,000 people to interview and all applicants were assessed on the basis of their skills, abilities, and suitability for the post in question. The jobs were ultimately offered to the most qualified candidates. Regarding the age profile of census enumerators in 2011 just 194 persons are aged over 65 with the majority aged between 30 and 65.

Where can I get help?

When will my completed census form be collected?

If your census form has not yet been collected by 23 May 2016, please return it fully completed in a large envelope to Central Statistics Office, PO Box 2016, FREEPOST F4726, Swords, Co. Dublin.

If I post back my form, will my enumerator still get to see it?

No. Forms returned by post will come directly to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Swords, Co. Dublin.