Frequently asked questions—The online census questionnaire

Completing the online questionnaire

1. How do I complete my census questionnaire online?

Completing an online questionnaire is easy. If you have a letter or a paper questionnaire with the 16-digit secure access code, please visit the census website and select the Start questionnaire button.

  • Enter the secure access code.
  • Begin answering the questions, and use the navigation buttons (Next, Previous) to move forward or backward through the questionnaire.
  • Use the button marked with a question mark if you are unsure of how to answer a question.
  • The session will time out after 20 minutes of inactivity, and all entered information that was not saved will be lost.
  • Those completing the long-form 2021 Census of Population questionnaire or the 2021 Census of Agriculture questionnaire may use the Save and finish later button to save their data onto Statistics Canada's secure server.
  • Use the Submit button at the end of the questionnaire to submit the completed questionnaire to Statistics Canada.
  • Make note of your confirmation number.
2. Why should I complete the census questionnaire online?

Completing your census questionnaire online is an easy, secure and convenient option that can be used anywhere, anytime. Statistics Canada applies the latest technologies to ensure that the agency's strict security and confidentiality requirements are met. Furthermore, in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, responding online is the best way to stay safe while fulfilling your census obligation.

The online census application does not involve preregistration or lengthy download processes. The following technical factors make the online questionnaire easy to complete:

  • Online edits prompt respondents when they have left questions blank or have entered conflicting information.
  • Automated skip patterns guide respondents past questions that are not applicable.
  • Questions have been personalized with respondents' names to reduce the likelihood of one person's responses being recorded in another person's response area.

In addition, help is available for each question and provides details within the application to assist respondents quickly.

3. Can I complete my census questionnaire online if I don't have a computer?

The online questionnaire can be completed using a computer or a mobile device, such as a laptop, tablet or cell phone. The device can be your own or someone else's and can be accessed in a library, at work, at home or elsewhere.

4. Do I need to install any software to complete the census questionnaire online?

You do not need to install any software or programs to complete the online questionnaire. The questionnaire is completely web-based. All you need is a computer or a mobile device, an Internet connection, and a web browser.

If your browser does not meet the minimum browser requirements, you may have to download a more current browser version or modify your browser's settings.

The following requirements apply to computer workstations, laptops and other mobile devices:

  • Cookies: To ensure that you are identified during your online session, you should ensure that cookies are enabled in your browser settings.
  • JavaScript: JavaScript is not required, but enabling it will enhance the functionality of the online questionnaire.

When you access the census website, a test will be done automatically to verify that your computer and browser meet the minimum requirements. If the requirements are not met, you will be provided with instructions on how to upgrade or modify your browser.

5. What are the minimum browser requirements?
  • Internet Explorer (IE) 10 or 11
  • Edge (Windows 10 only)
  • Chrome 84.0.4147 (or higher)
  • Firefox 78 (or higher)
  • Safari 13.1 (or higher)

It is recommended that the latest browsers be used since they will have the most up-to-date security features.

6. Can I complete the census questionnaire online if I have a firewall or anti-virus software?

If you have a firewall, you may have problems connecting to Statistics Canada's secure servers. You may need to change the settings on your firewall to allow communication between Statistics Canada's servers and your computer. The same will apply to any anti-virus software you have.

7. Can I complete the census questionnaire online if I have an ad blocker, content blocker or a browser add-on software?

If you have an ad blocker, a content blocker or a browser add-on, you may encounter problems with the display or functionality of the online questionnaire. These types of software are used to prevent ads or hide particular elements of websites while browsing the Internet. You may need to change the settings or turn off the software to allow proper functioning and display of the online questionnaire.

8. What is a secure access code, and where do I find mine?

The secure access code is a unique, 16-digit number associated with the census questionnaire for your household or agricultural operation. You will need this code to complete the questionnaire online.

Census of Population
Households will receive a letter with instructions for completing the census questionnaire online. Your secure access code is located at the top of the invitation letter or on the first page of the paper questionnaire. Residents of collective dwellings do not have the option to complete their own census questionnaire online.

Census of Agriculture
Agricultural operations will receive a letter with instructions for completing the census questionnaire online. Your secure access code is located at the top of the invitation letter.

9. When I entered my secure access code, the questionnaire didn't appear. What if my secure access code isn't working?

Your browser may not be configured to accept session cookies. If your computer does not meet the minimum requirements to access the online questionnaire, a page with instructions will be displayed.

Other reasons the system did not accept your secure access code include the following:

  • Your secure access code was not entered correctly.
  • A completed questionnaire for your household or agricultural operation has already been received by Statistics Canada.

If you require further assistance, please contact one of the following:

  • Census of Population Help Line: 1-855-340-2021
  • Census of Agriculture Help Line: 1-855-859-6273.
10. What if I have to leave my computer before completing my questionnaire?

For security reasons, if your screen is inactive for more than 20 minutes, or if you close your Internet browser, your session will time out. You will receive a warning after 15 minutes indicating that your session will time out in five minutes. To re-establish your session, re-enter your secure access code and, if applicable, your password.

Once your session times out, any information that was entered but not saved will be lost.

If you do not return to complete the questionnaire, your partial answers will be retained by Statistics Canada. You may be contacted to complete any unfinished questions through Statistics Canada's follow-up program.

We recommend that you use the Save and finish later option (not available for the short-form Census of Population questionnaire) to save your information. In that case, saved data can be retrieved with a password.

11. What is the "Save and finish later" option?

If you are completing a long-form Census of Population questionnaire or a Census of Agriculture questionnaire, you can use the Save and finish later option to save your information and return to complete the questionnaire at a later time. This function is not available for the short-form Census of Population questionnaire.

The first thing you will be asked to do is to create a password. Keep your password in a safe place. You will then be prompted to set up a security question that will be used to validate your identity if you need to reset your password. However, if you enter your password incorrectly five times, or if you have forgotten the answer to your security question, you will be locked out of your questionnaire and you will have to start a new questionnaire.

If you are locked out of your questionnaire and must start a new one, follow these steps:

  • Contact the Census of Population Help Line at 1-855-340-2021 or the Census of Agriculture Help Line at 1-855-859-6273 to obtain a new secure access code.
  • With your new secure access code, return to the census website and select Start questionnaire.
  • On the login page, enter your new secure access code. You will be presented with a new questionnaire.

If you do not return to complete the questionnaire, you may be contacted to complete any unfinished questions through Statistics Canada's follow-up program.

12. What will happen to the information I saved if I don't go back to finish the questionnaire?

If you are completing a long-form Census of Population questionnaire or a Census of Agriculture questionnaire, you can use the Save and finish later option to save your information and return to complete it at a later time.

If you select Save and finish later or select Save the questionnaire in the log out screen when filling out one of these questionnaires, you will be provided with a date by which you must complete the questionnaire. After that date, your questionnaire will be considered partially completed and will be automatically submitted on your behalf.

You may be contacted through Statistics Canada's follow-up program to complete any unfinished questions.

Mobile devices

13. Can I complete the online questionnaire using my mobile device?

Yes, the online questionnaire can be completed using a mobile device. However, users of assistive technologies may prefer using a desktop computer to complete the online questionnaire.

14. When I selected the help button (?), why did the questionnaire stay greyed out?

This can happen when the help window is closed in landscape orientation. Switch to portrait view, and swipe back from the left edge of the screen to remove the grey screen.

15. Why can't I see the first few words entered in a write-in field?

The write-in fields display a limited number of characters. Use the arrow buttons on your keyboard to view the beginning of the write-in field.

16. The help window is very small. Why doesn't it display its full content?

If you select the help button (?) while the keyboard is open, the help window does not open to its full size. Close the help window by clicking anywhere on the screen, and select the help button (?) again to enable it to open full size.

17. Why can't I print the confirmation page?

Some devices do not have the ability to print. You can take a screen capture or record your confirmation number manually.

Technical issues

18. What do I do if I can't access the online questionnaire?

If you receive a message indicating that your computer, mobile device or browser does not meet the minimum requirements, you will be instructed to upgrade or modify your browser so you can successfully access the secure site.

If your computer, mobile device or browser settings meet the minimum requirements, but the site is not accessible because of technical difficulties or too much traffic, please wait a few hours and try again.

19. What do I do if I see "Connection timed out" or "Page not available"?

Here are some suggestions of what to do if you get one of the above messages:

  • Ensure that your browser is set to accept cookies.
  • Clear your cache.
  • Ensure that all firewalls, external or other, allow for file uploads.
  • If you have a router, ensure that it allows file uploads and that the maximum transmission unit is set to 1452 (note: this number may need to be adjusted depending on the operating system).
  • Try another browser.
  • Ensure that you do not have a virus that is preventing you from connecting.
  • If all else fails, try another computer or mobile device.

If you are using a computer connected to a local area network (LAN), such as a computer at work, the security settings on that computer could be preventing you from accessing the online questionnaire. Try a computer or mobile device at home or a computer not connected to a LAN.

20. Why isn't the questionnaire being displayed properly?

The screen resolution on your computer or laptop should not be lower than 800 x 600.

21. What can I do if I have forgotten my password?

If you have forgotten your password, return to the login page, enter your secure access code and select the Start questionnaire button. From there, select the link to reset your password. Answer the security question you selected previously to validate your identity and then follow the instructions for resetting your password.

If you have entered an incorrect password five times or if you have forgotten the answer to your security question, you must start a new questionnaire. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Contact the Census of Population Help Line at 1-855-340-2021 or the Census of Agriculture Help Line at 1-855-859-6273 to obtain a new secure access code.
  • With your new secure access code, return to the census website and select Start questionnaire.
  • On the login page, enter your new secure access code. You will be presented with a new questionnaire.

Note: this procedure applies to the long-form Census of Population questionnaire and the Census of Agriculture questionnaire only.

22. When I entered my password, my questionnaire didn't appear. What if my password isn't working?

There are several reasons why the system may not accept your password:

  • Your password was entered incorrectly.
  • The CAPS LOCK function is activated on your keyboard.
  • Cookies are not enabled in your web browser.

If you require further assistance, please contact one of the following:

  • Census of Population Help Line: 1-855-340-2021
  • Census of Agriculture Help Line: 1-855-859-6273.
23. What if the questionnaire freezes in the middle of my session?

If you cannot complete your questionnaire because the application is frozen, close your browser and try again.

Submitting the questionnaire

24. How will I know that Statistics Canada has received my questionnaire?

If you were directed to a Thank you page (with a 12-digit confirmation code) after completing your census questionnaire online, your information was submitted and you can safely close your application without anything happening to your census data.

Print or keep a copy of the confirmation code for your records.

Please note that Statistics Canada may still contact you after you have submitted your questionnaire. Sometimes there is a lag between the receipt of a questionnaire and the registration of its arrival at Statistics Canada. Other times, the questionnaire submitted by respondents is still identified as incomplete in the database if information is missing or invalid. For those reasons, reminders might continue to be sent, or you may be contacted to complete any unfinished questions through our follow-up program.

25. I just completed the online questionnaire. Is there a way for me to print my answers?

Once completed, the Census of Population questionnaire cannot be printed.

Respondents who want to receive a copy of the information contained in their census questionnaire must submit a request in writing to the Departmental Privacy Officer, Statistics Canada, R.H. Coats Building, second floor, 100 Tunney's Pasture Driveway, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6. Requests can be made by letter or by using a Personal Information Request Form. In either case, the request will be treated formally under the Privacy Act.

Processing of requests cannot begin until November 2021. At that time, you will be sent a copy of the answers you provided on the questionnaire as quickly as possible.

The Census of Agriculture questionnaire can be printed for your records once it has been completed. However, please do not send your printed Census of Agriculture questionnaire to Statistics Canada, as there will be no way to capture your responses. The "print for your records" option is available only for the Census of Agriculture questionnaire and only after you submit your questionnaire. Please note that after 20 minutes of inactivity on the Thank you page, your session will time out and the option to print will no longer be available.

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