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1911 census for England and Wales

1911 census for England and Wales

Sisters in their night gowns saying goodnight. Cat ref: AIR 27/850

1911 census

Is the 1911 census open?

The 1911 Census must remain closed as a whole document until 2012, to protect personally sensitive information. However the Information Commissioner's decision means that The National Archives must supply some information from the 1911 Census in response to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Go to The Information Commissioner's website to read the decision noticeExternal website - link opens in a new window

Will there be an online service?

In response to great public demand The National Archives is developing an online 1911 Census service, covering most parts of the census, with our external partner For more information, please visit

Over two kilometres of census records, containing the details of 35 million UK ancestors, will be digitised. This will provide an online service, across most fields of the Census, enabling researchers anywhere in the world to search and download digital scans of images from the census. As with our current online census services it will be both address and name searchable. It is anticipated that it will be available from 2009. It will offer a much cheaper and speedier access to the census returns than the planned FOI service. The full 1911 census won't be released until 2012.

Can I get any information from the census now?

In response to the Information Commissioners decision we shall respond to individual requests for some information from the 1911 census through our existing paid search service. This service is more limited, and almost certainly a lot more expensive to you, than the online service will be. Our recommendation is that you will get much more value out of the 1911 census if you are able wait until the online service is launched.

What is the service that you are providing now?

  • A basic research service to enable you to request information from specific addresses in the 1911 census
  • The 1911 Census does not have a surname index so we cannot conduct searches for names in the original documents - when it goes online this will be easy to do
  • We cannot provide personally sensitive information from the 1911 census

How do I make a request now?

You will need to provide:

  • 1. House name or number / Building name / Vessel name
  • 2. County
  • 3. Civil Parish

Requests cannot be processed without this information.

The FOI Act requires information requests to be processed within 20 working days. These 20 working days begin once The National Archives has received payment.

All requests must be in writing and an online form is provided for your convenience. Go to our form to apply online

Will I have to pay for this information?

  • This will be a charged service in line with The National Archives paid search service - currently £45 per address search
  • The fee is for the research work and we will endeavour to do all we can to find the information you want.
  • Unfortunately we will not be able to offer refunds on unsuccessful searches

Are the documents in good condition?

  • All of these records are stored in good environmental conditions in the Kew repositories, in accordance with British archival standards
  • The records have been subjected to rigorous inspections by skilled Conservation staff and although creases or folds were estimated to occur in nearly 50% of records, this will not materially affect the legibility or scanning
  • A much smaller percentage, about 5% of the Census schedules, has required more extensive Conservation work in order for them to be scanned safely
  • This may affect the legibility of some information and there may be rare occasions when we cannot provide the information you have requested
  • The enumerator summary books are all in excellent condition

Will I now be able to make FOI requests to see information held on the 1921 census?

  • The 1921 census is not held by The National Archives and remains, like all post 1921 censuses in the custody of the Office for National StatisticsExternal website - link opens in a new window
  • Government policy is that the 1921 and subsequent censuses should remain closed for 100 years. Unlike the 1911 census the 1921 census was conducted under the 1920 Census Act, which is still in force and which contains a statutory prohibition on disclosure. This means that if any FOI requests are received for the 1921 census, the exemption found in S44 of the FOI Act will be invoked to maintain census confidentiality

Read our press release for further information

If you have any questions please visit the 1911 FAQ page

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