Every household in Scotland will receive a questionnaire which asks 13 questions about the household and up to 35 questions about each household member. These include questions about work, education, national identity, ethnic background, language, health and marital status. Edinburgh is split into two distinct areas for the administration of the census, Edinburgh West and Edinburgh East.

Household questionnaires are 28 pages long – four pages of questions per person, for up to five people, plus the household questions and guidance notes.

The household questionnaire can normally be filled in online using the internet access code printed on the front page. A sample questionnaire can be viewed here.

People in residential establishments such as student halls or care homes will receive questionnaires for completion on an individual basis.

Questionnaires will be delivered in March. These can be filled in and returned as soon as they arrive – provided your answers cover the people living or staying with you on the night of 27 March.

There is a legal requirement to complete the 2011 Census questionnaire and taking part is the best way to avoid the risk of a fine of up to £1,000.

This once-in-a-decade survey gives a snapshot of the nation and how people live in each community. How many people are there in Scotland? What kind of homes do they live in? How healthy are they? What languages do they speak?

By law, personal census information is kept confidential for 100 years. The statistical information – which has all personal details removed – helps inform government, local authorities, public sector organisations and businesses about the services and resources Scotland and its communities need.

Every household will receive a questionnaire asking 13 questions about the household and up to 35 questions about each household member.  Topics include work, education, national identity, ethnic background, language, health and marital status. It is important that everyone is counted.

Duncan Macniven, Registrar General, said:-“The census is unique because it is the only survey to include everyone in the country. It asks the same questions of us all and in doing so builds a reliable picture of Scotland as a whole, as well as groups of people and local communities within it. The answers people give to each question produce a rich source of statistics that helps inform how billions of pounds worth of services are spent. For example, by telling us that you live in a rural community and that you don’t have a car, you highlight the need for local public transport. Or by telling us that you are a pensioner who lives alone and has a health condition, you highlight the potential need for community health provision in your area. This helps central and local government, health authorities, businesses and community groups to target resources to where they are needed.”

Duncan Macniven has been the Registrar General since 2003. He heads up the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) and is responsible for organising the country’s national census. GROS collects and stores a range of information about Scotland’s people, including: registration of births, marriages and deaths; running the National Health Service Central Register and organising Scotland’s Census. GROS uses the information generated by these activities – as well as from other sources – to calculate and publish population statistics relating to all walks of Scottish life. GROS is also the main source of family history records in Scotland.