Czech national census kicks off this weekend: foreigners (must) count, too

Photo: Czech Television

The 2021 national census gets underway this weekend. Not only Czech citizens but also foreigners with permanent residency or living in the country for more than 90 days as of the start date must complete the survey – or face a fine of up to 10,000 crowns. However, for many whose mother tongue isn’t Czech, the process is easier than ever before. Both despite and because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The Czech national census takes place every ten years. This year, it begins on March 27 and lasts until May 11, a few weeks longer than usual. But for those who want to submit online forms, the most convenient way to fill out the survey, must submit them by April 9.

According to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ), more than two-thirds of the population will likely use the online census form, but they will be sending out some 11,000 surveyors to assist who do not have access to a computer, need help filling in the form online, or miss the April 9 deadline.

ČSÚ spokesperson Jolana Voldánová notes that with the exception of people with diplomatic status, anyone with permanent residency in the Czech Republic, or here for more than 90 days – regardless of where they may actually be living now, whether they are a Czech citizen or foreigner, or have dual citizenship – must fill out the form.

Illustrative photo: Lenka Žižková

The good news is that people will need to answer fewer questions than ever before, as statisticians will obtain partial data from various registers. And for the first time, online forms will now be available in the languages of “national minorities” living here, she told Czech Radio.

“Translations in seven different languages can be used for the online census forms. These are English, German, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Romani. You can switch between languages when filling out any part of the form. You can also request a printed translation... But those are only to help people fill out the original form, which must be completed in the Czech language.”

Census data have been collected in the Czech lands since 1753, when Bohemia was ruled by Habsburg empress Maria Theresa. Since 1869, it has been held every 10 years. Among the questions dropped this year are whether the household has hot water, a bathroom, or an internet connection. Much such data is now gleaned from real estate, tax and labour offices, and other registers.

Ms Voldánová notes that anonymity and personal data security will be strictly protected, and encourages everyone to honestly state their nationality, something people are hesitant to share.

“Nationality means belonging to a nation of people, such as an ethnic minority. It may not be tied to a state, unlike citizenship. Your mother tongue may not be decisive in determining nationality. It is a declaratory data, i.e. an expression of personal identity to a certain population group.

“It definitely makes sense to state your nationality, because the size of a minority impacts the promotion of its rights and interests, such as having classes in the minority language, the allocation of subsidies, for cultural festivals, education, magazines and so on.”

For more information on the 2021 national census and links to online forms, see: