start making census

9 questions you've probably had about filling out Census 2016

Pen at the ready.

30/06/2011 Census results. People go about their b Tonight was chosen as census night to coincide with 100 years since the date the Easter Rising began. Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Will I get in trouble if I don’t bother filling it out?

There’s a decent chance you will, yes.

You’re obligated by law to fill out the form and failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to €44,440.

The CSO says that most people who didn’t fill it out on time in 2011 had simply forgotten and that letters reminding them of their legal obligation did the trick.

Further legal steps can be required for others who refuse to participate. In 2011, there were five successful prosecutions of people who refused to answer the 35-question survey.

Why can’t we fill out the census online?

shutterstock_406692340 Shutterstock / ra2studio Shutterstock / ra2studio / ra2studio

If your first response is, ‘because it’s the census, you fill it out and hand it back’, then you’ll have a surprise in five years time.

The CSO says that it is planned that the next census will give people the option to input their details online.

The idea was considered for this year but it wasn’t deemed possible this time around.

Watch this space.

Can I fill out the census in a different language? 

17/12/2011 Undocumented Campaigns Protests Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

The census forms delivered around the country note that they can be completed in English or in Irish, but the CSO offers translation services in 20 other languages.

Questions 14 and 15 ask directly about language usage, the former about proficiency in Irish and the latter about the usage of other foreign languages.

The last census recorded that 509,848 people speak a language other than Irish or English at home.

How is your health in general?

census 1

Eh, I’m grand. I think?

Seriously though, it may seem difficult and almost a little trivial to sum up the state of your health by ticking a box, but it’s an important question.

The questions was asked for the first time five years ago and the CSO says it’s important because it shows how people’s health relates to various factors like their age, profession and education.

Crashing on a couch

shutterstock_391579414 'Can I fill out your census? Shutterstock / Voyagerix Shutterstock / Voyagerix / Voyagerix

If I went out Saturday night and I’m still not home by Sunday evening am I supposed to fill out the census in some randomers house?

Technically, yes, if you’re sleeping over on the Sunday night too.

The census doesn’t want to double-count people so to stop that happening the rule is that you’re included in the house you’re staying in on Sunday.

The census asks you where you usually live, so don’t worry, the State won’t mark you as a Kerryman if you’re if a Corkman in Tralee for the evening.

Questions like ‘what is your current marital status?’ might make for some awkward moments if you’re staying over somewhere you shouldn’t be on Sunday, but apart from that you’re grand.

Are the questions the same as last time?

Ireland Gay Marriage AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Yes, they’re all the same except for one small but important alteration.

The answers for ‘What is your marital status?’ have been reworded to take into account civil partnerships and the recognition of same-sex marriages.

There are still seven answers to the question, but the answers are different.

census 6 Question 5 of the census, this year on the left and 2011 on the right.

No home, no census? 

2/5/2015. Homeless Jesus Sculptures The Homeless Jesus Sculpture outside Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

If the census is based on where you’re staying on Sunday night, does that mean homeless people aren’t counted at all?

No it doesn’t.

The census collects details of people staying in emergency accommodation across the country as well as people in hostels and rough sleepers.

Homeless persons are identified based on where they were on census night rather than by self-identification.

In 2011, 3,744 people were identified as sleeping rough or in homeless accommodation with the CSO itself saying that homelessness has become a bigger issue this time around.

What is your religion?

9/02/2016. Blessing Of Engaged Couples Bishop Denis Nulty blesses an engaged couple at the Shrine of the holy relics of Saint Valentine in Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Dublin. Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

More than any other topic, this census question has provoked more discussion this year than any other on the form.

Some people argue that the question itself is leading because it presumes someone has a religion. Others just say that it’s unclear because many people are conflicted about their own beliefs.

Summing up your beliefs is not easy, so the advice from CSO and both pro- and anti- religious groups is to answer based on how you feel.

How many forms have been sent out?

23/03/2016. Official launch of Census 2016. Pictur / Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell

Two million census forms have been delivered to houses around the country.

Each form contains 12 A4 pages with the CSO saying that if all of the forms were laid side by side they would cover the area of 476 football pitches.

Laid end to end, they would stretch along one third of the circumference of the Earth.

Read: Census forms haven’t been getting to apartment blocks and the CSO is worried >

Read: Here’s how you can shape the living history of Ireland next month >

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