Get census microdata
We provide access to cross-sectional census microdata, these are anonymised individual level records sampled from a single census. They are large individual level files which resemble the sort of data that might be collected directly from a questionnaire. Because individual records contain a wide range of individual and household characteristics, the data enable multivariate analyses for a wide range or purposes.
The UK Data Service holds contemporary data from the 1981 to 2011 Censuses and microdata samples from 1961 onwards.
The UK Data Service provides different levels of access to a wide range of census microdata from different years.
Taster files (also known as the Teaching files) are available as open data and the Census Microdata Teaching Datasets for Great Britain are freely available for anyone to download under an Open Government Licence.
2011 taster files (also known as the Teaching files) are available as open data in csv format from:
- Office for National Statistics Microdata teaching file
- Northern Ireland Statistics and Registration Agency Microdata teaching file
- National Records Scotland Microdata teaching file.
These files have limited detail and are based on a 1% sample of individuals.
Teaching files are also available in SPSS and Stata format from the UK Data Service.
- Census 2011 Microdata Teaching File for England and Wales
- Census 2011 Microdata Teaching File for Scotland: Unrestricted Access
- Census 2011 Microdata Teaching File for Northern Ireland: Unrestricted Access.
England and Scotland files are also available from our online data exploration tool Nesstar.
The Census Microdata Teaching Datasets for Great Britain were created from existing digital records from the 1981, 1971 and 1961 Censuses. These files contain only a small number of variables and are based on 1% sample of individuals. They can be used as ‘taster’ files for census data and are freely available for anyone to download under an Open Government Licence.
Safeguarded data are available to registered users who have agreed to the licence conditions. For overseas users, data are only available to researchers based within the European Economic Area with data depositors’ permission. The key analysis datasets are listed below.
England and Wales
- 2011 Census Microdata Individual Safeguarded Sample (Regional): England and Wales
- 2011 Census Microdata Individual Safeguarded Sample (Local Authority): England and Wales.
- 2011 Census Microdata Individual Safeguarded Sample (Regional): Scotland
- 2011 Census Microdata Individual Safeguarded Sample (Local Authority): Scotland.
- Census 2001: Individual Licenced Sample of Anonymised Records (I-SAR)
- Census 2001: Small Area Microdata (SAM).
For users who are interested in imputation, there are also specialist datasets that were made available from the 2001 census microdata. These are larger files that contain an imputation flag variable for each original variable. As they are otherwise identical, general users are advised to use the smaller standard files.
- Census 1991: Individual Sample of Anonymised Records for Great Britain (SARs)
- Census 1991: Household Sample of Anonymised Records for Great Britain (SARs)
- Census 1991: Individual Sample of Anonymised Records for Northern Ireland (SARs)
- Census 1991: Household Sample of Anonymised Records for Northern Ireland (SARs).
The UK Data Service provide safeguarded access to the Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM). These are microdata from the censuses that were carried out in the UK between 1851 and 1911.
Secure data are available through the SecureLab arrangements.
Detailed files at a safe setting
Users should also be aware that there are also more detailed versions of the data available only within safe settings. Applications to use these data as an approved researcher should be made directly to the Office for National Statistics for 2001 and to the relevant census office for data from the 2011 Census.
The SRS sites are – Titchfield near Fareham, Newport Wales, Belfast Northern Ireland, Glasgow Scotland and Pimlico London.
If you are considering using the 2001 data, you might be interested in testing your syntax on a dataset which was designed for this purpose – see the CAMS test file.
The 2021 Census took place on 21 March in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The census in Scotland is delayed to 2022. The census agencies are planning to release the final census outputs in March 2023 for England and Wales, details on Census 2021 milestones and by summer 2023 for Northern Ireland, refer to Key elements of the 2021 Census.
We will keep these pages updated with further information about census data releases, including updates about when new census data will be available from the UK Data Service.