Where Can I Find The UK Census Online?

By | July 31, 2017

Interested to find your UK ancestors? Want to find as much information about them as you possibly can? Well, then you will want to read my guide to the UK census online.

Here I will show you which free and paid websites that you can check out. There are a number of sites that you can explore and I will show you the best ones for you to visit.

UK Census Online

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This post discusses various ways that you can access the U.K. census records for your ancestor within either England Wales. Censuses were conducted separately for Scotland and Ireland.

If you want to find your Scottish ancestor then please check out the Scotland’s People website. This is a paid site so you will have to pay to access any of their records. For the Irish Census you can visit the National Archives of Ireland. Similar with the Scottish census you will likewise have to pay.

Sources of census records available online:

Free Census Records Online

Whenever I am searching for information about my ancestors I always check to see what I can get for free. It is always a good idea to see what you can find without spending any money first.

That money can be better spent on things that will have to be paid for.

Free Census Records Online

Just what free options are available to you?

Family Search Census Records

You can access the U.K. census records through the Family Search website. On this site you will find images for the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1891, 1901 and 1911 census years.

You will have noticed that I missed out 1881! This is because on Family Search there is also a full transcription for this particular year. That means that you can easily search for your ancestor by name for 1881.

To find your relative for all the other years you will unfortunately have to search through the images.

Family Search does millions of records and I have found many records containing my ancestors on this site. However, the problem though is that I do not always find what I am looking for.

For that reason I usually there have to go to one of the paid genealogy sites.

And because only the 1881 census is fully transcribed that means that I have to go elsewhere to easily find my ancestors.


Since FreeCen was established back in 1999 the number of volunteers continues to grow working on transcribing the U.K. census. There are even volunteers from outside of the U.K. willing to help with the transcription.

Census Years and Census Dates

This is a great initiative, to have the U.K. census contained in one database, and be accessible for free. However, the bad news is that not all census years are covered.

With the help of volunteers the site covers census years 1841 to 1891. So if you are looking for the 1901 and 1911 census then you will have to look elsewhere.

Another disadvantage of this site is that these census years are not yet fully transcribed. But the website does welcome new volunteers. So if you would like to give back to the genealogy world then why not help them transcribe these records.

For more information please check out their website.

Ancestry, FindMyPast and MyHeritage

I visit these two paid genealogy search websites to trace my family tree. Sure you do have to part with your cash but I usually find what I am looking for on these sites. This is because their databases are mostly complete.

Credit:   Ancestry

The only reason why I may not find what I am looking for is maybe because there is no particular record of my ancestor in the first place. Take for example one ancestor of mine.

I tried and I tried to search for my 2nd great grandmother Ann Waters in the 1851 census but alas I couldn’t. I came to the realization that she was just not included for this year.

Both Ancestry and FindMyPast offer all of the U.K. census years, where they have indexes and images. If you are an Ancestry member already then you will be able to link these census images to your family tree that you have built on their website.

Tip: There is a way that you can access these records for free on both Ancestry and Find My Past. Why not visit your local library? I have done this many times and have built my family tree extensively by using my library’s computer and accessing these sites.

You may also have heard of the MyHeritage website. I have not used this site myself but I did want to bring to your attention that they do have all of the census years available for you to search. Like the two other sites that I have just mentioned you will have to pay to access these records.

==> Check Out The Best Genealogy Sites! <==

National Archives UK

To access a census record containing your ancestor from The National Archives UK you will need to pay. Despite having to pay for this service you will find all of the census years within their collection.

So if you do not wish to use any of the above mentioned sites then you may wish to check out the National Archives site.

If you are in England then you may wish to pay the National Archives a visit and see the original documents or records in person. Not only do they have census records but also births, deaths and marriages certificates, military and maritime records, criminal records and more.

The Archives are located at Kew in Surrey. For more information on opening times and how to get there please visit their Visit Us page.

Credit:   National Archives UK

UK Census Online

You can access and search each of the census years 1841 to 1911 on the UK Census Online website. However, this is yet another paid service where you can choose from a monthly, quarterly, 6 monthly or a yearly membership. Not only will you find the index to your ancestor’s records but an image as well.

Access to births, marriages and deaths is also possible on this site. You can combine your membership to include access to these records as well.

UK Census

You are able to conduct a free search where you will be presented with the following:

  • Forename
  • Surname
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • County
  • Estimated year of birth
  • Place of birth (town and county)

But to view the record you will then need to pay. If you do decide to pay then I do suggest that you are certain that you have the correct individual and that the person that you have found is in fact your ancestor.

You maybe quite uncertain about this if your ancestor has a common name, John Smith perhaps. The occupation field is a great way to identify if you have the correct individual.

My Final Thoughts

As I have pointed out and explored in this post there are several sites that you can visit to find your ancestors within the UK census. There are others but these ones I feel are the best for you to conduct your search. The choice though is yours.

I do suggest though that you try out the free options first. So head to Family Search and see what you can find there.

If you do have a local library then why not visit it and go on the computer there. They will most likely have a subscription to Ancestry and probably Find My Past. So you will be able to search these websites for free.

Census records as I said earlier have been a great help to me in building out my family tree. They too can help you. They are great resource for any genealogist wishing to trace their heritage.

I wish you all the best on your family history journey.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post discussing UK census records online. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

10 thoughts on “Where Can I Find The UK Census Online?

  1. Angela

    This is amazing information! With the influx of new generations looking into their ancestry, this website is perfect! You have so many resources and helpful information. You have provided a gateway to the past! Thank you!

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Angela. There are plenty of resources that we can use to trace our family history. And here on this site you can find many guides on what is available and also how to use them.

  2. Satria

    Wow! This was great! Now you definitely can do anything by online.
    Never forget where you came from is the message of this article for me.

    Thank you for making such an informative post.

  3. mikerrsq

    GREAT ,
    this article is so informative , i like the way you go by the past history .
    please i will like you to write something about “Africa” too , thank you .

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi there and thank you for the compliment. Since I started this website I have focused more on the western world. Although you can use many of the tips that I have shared for other parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa. As I do grow the site though I will be concentrating on other regions and countries. Keep checking back for more useful guides and tips.

  4. Toni

    Great article! I was wondering if you know how I could find census information or other ancestral records from the UK that date back further than 1741? I’ve traced my family history back to the late 1500’s through family records. But I have no idea how to locate any official records prior to that time. Any ideas?

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Toni,

      That’s a great question. When I first read it I thought of Bishop Transcripts. The National Archives but these date from 1745 to 1900. My best bet would be to visit your local archives instead, or where your ancestor grew up and see what they have there. Hope that helps.

  5. Craig

    HI Owain, thanks for providing all this information for the UK Census. It’s always good to get tips on how we can get some database info for free! I had a look at the MyHeritage website and it’s really easy to get started so thanks a lot for sharing. By adding some family details you can start building your family tree for free! They also advertise a DNA test, is this something you have done? Is it recommended?

    1. Owain Post author

      My pleasure Craig. We all have to start somewhere when we begin our family history journey. Getting information for free is the best approach but there are times when we will have to spend some cash.

      I have not yet gone down the DNA testing route as of yet but it is something that I want to do in the near future. This type of testing can show me where else that I need to look, or confirm to me that I am looking in the right place.

      Another benefit of DNA testing I see that it is possible that matches will be made with living cousins. This is something that interests men as I have already made some connections and I am looking forward to making new ones.

      You just don’t know where your genealogy research will take you and that’s part of the excitement for me.


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