What is the census rehearsal?

The census rehearsal is a bit like a “mini-census”. It’s an end-to-end test of just about everything we’ll need to do for the real thing.

However, rather than covering the whole of England and Wales as the census does, the rehearsal will take place in just four selected local authority areas. We’ll invite all households in these areas to take part by filling in a census rehearsal questionnaire.

Why ONS needs to hold a rehearsal

The rehearsal is an important way for us to test that all our processes, systems and services are effective and working as they should before the 2021 Census.

The census is important to all of us. The information it collects helps the government and local authorities plan services like schools, health services, roads and libraries. By running a rehearsal, we can make sure the census runs smoothly and that it represents everyone.

Up to now, we’ve carried out a couple of different census tests to help us prepare for 2021 – but nothing quite on the scale of the rehearsal. This will also be the final major test we’ll be doing before the main event.

Where it’s taking place

We’ve chosen four different local authority areas within England and Wales where the rehearsal will take place. These are:

  • Carlisle

  • Ceredigion

  • Hackney

  • Tower Hamlets

Find out how we chose our rehearsal areas.

What you need to do

If you live within one of our chosen areas, we’ll contact you around the time of the rehearsal, asking you to fill in the questionnaire.

If we do get in touch, it’s important you take part. The more people who respond, the more accurate information we’ll have to help us plan for the census.

Filling in the form will only take a few minutes of your time. If we need your help, we’ll let you know exactly what you need to do closer to the rehearsal date.

More information

We’ll be updating our website with more information about the 2019 Rehearsal as we get closer to the event.

In the meantime, read through our census pages to find out more about the 2021 Census.