There’s still time to do the Census!

The deadline for completing the 2021 Census is the end of April, and the Census telephone helpline has added a special line for people living on boats or in caravans, vans, tents or other transient accommodation. This follows the severe difficulties that some Bargee Travellers experienced trying to get a Unique Access Code to do the census online, which have been reported back to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by the NBTA and other organisations. You can now call the Census helpline and select option 4 .

Many Bargee Travellers received a paper form from one of the field officers over the Census weekend. If you weren’t on board and you still need to get a Unique Access Code, we have the following advice (this is different from the advice we published on 18th March).

To get a Unique Access Code you need to:

1.  Identify your location: use Google Maps to obtain:

– a long/lat coordinate pair (eg 51.449766078,-0.966798734);


– a what3words phrase (eg tent.lame.sleep)


– you already know the postcode of your location (eg RG1 2ST) (this doesn’t have to be the postcode of YOUR BOAT, just an identifiable postcode within say ¼ mile of where you are moored)


– you already know how to identify this location (eg using


you know the name of some landmark close to where you are moored (note that the Census personnel don’t know lock numbers, bridge numbers or names or other waterway-specific landmarks but may know some wharf names or other postal addresses from the Royal Mail Postcode Address File).

2. Call the Census helpline on

0800 141 2021 (England)

0800 169 2021 (Wales, available in English or Welsh);

0800 587 2021 (other languages);

The hours are Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, Saturday, 8am to 1pm, most Sundays closed;

When you get through and the automatic attendant asks you what you want to do, select option 4 (this puts you through to the Specialist Transient team)

3. You will be asked for your postcode. EITHER:

say “please use Google Maps” and give the lat/long coordinates or the what3words phrase


provide the postcode you have already worked out

4. You will also be asked for your name, your boat name, the canal you are on and your mobile number. If all of these are not asked for, give them to the call handler anyway.

5. You will then be given an address which will be formatted as follows:

Address line 1: BOAT, WATERWAY

Address line 2: NEAREST STREET

Town: TOWN

Postcode: POSTCODE

You need to write this down.

The call handler will then generate the Unique Access Code which will be sent to you by text. You need to write that down as well. You are then good to go.

When you are ready to do the return, go to and the first thing asked for is the Unique Access Code. The address that you wrote down should then be presented to you. If you can’t face doing the whole thing at once you can “save and exit” and return later. The Unique Access Code lets you in.