Census day is peeping over the horizon. Letters telling you about the census may already have dropped on your doormat.

An advance card will explain that the census is taking place on Sunday, March 21. Every household will then be sent a letter with a digital access code. This code will let you fill out the questionnaire online.

This is a digital-first census. The hope is that most people will go online. You will be able to complete the questionnaire on your tablet, smartphone or computer. This should not be difficult, and everything has been made as straightforward as possible.

However, the census does realise that some people are not confident online or may not have access to a computer. If this is the case, do not worry. You can request to have a paper copy and fill the census in as you always have done in the past.

You can complete the questionnaire before, on or after March 21, but it is the law that you do complete the census. Failure to do so risks a fine of £1,000.

Further help will be available by phoning the helplines going live soon and by visiting the census website.

The information gathered by the census is vital for shaping so many aspects of our society, including education, transport and healthcare.

Although Census 2021 will be familiar to anyone who has filled out a questionnaire in the past, new questions have been added.

For the first time, the census will count armed forces veterans. This will allow the central and local government to better understand the profiles and needs of the ex-military community. This in turn will allow for stepped up services for veterans, with better data and understanding allowing for more targeted and efficient support.

There are also new questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. These questions are voluntary for people aged 16 and over.

There is no robust data available on gender identity. These data are needed by local authorities and service providers to inform the provision of services. The sexual orientation and gender identity questions will be voluntary for people aged 16 and over.

You can find more information at www.census.gov.uk.