FAQ Frequently asked questions

Why is the census conducted?

The census provides an important basis for political, administrative and economic planning and decision-making. Based on the census, infrastructural measures such as the construction of schools and day care centres for children can be better planned. The census also provides important data for science and is used as a data basis for many sets of official statistics. The basis for the census is EU Regulation (EC) No 763/2008. This regulation obliges all EU Member States to conduct a census every ten years, that is, at the beginning of every decade.

What measures are taken in the census to ensure data protection?

Any technological-organisational measures required to ensure data protection are taken. The technological and organisational measures required are systematically derived from the current baseline protection catalogues of the Federal Office for Information Security. In addition, they are always based on the state of the art. Protection needs, potential threats and the required measures are determined and their implementation is checked to avoid unwanted data loss.

In what form are the census results released?

The main results are published in specialised statistical publications of the Federation and the Länder. The statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder also provide an online database which can be accessed by anyone interested. All results published contain only aggregated data and are subjected to a confidentiality procedure. This ensures that no information can be derived on individual persons. Small-area data below administrative district level are provided by the statistical offices of the Länder.

Where can results on the 2011 Census be found?

Results on the 2011 Census are available in the Census database.

For how long will the data collected in the census be stored and when will they be deleted?

Pursuant to the general data protection rules of the GDPR, personal (census) data have to be deleted by the controller if they are no longer required for the purposes they were collected for, among other things. Other specific deletion obligations apply in official statistics. In the 2022 Census, too, explicit special legal deletion obligations apply to the individual data to be processed so that the rights and freedoms of the people concerned are protected. The statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder comply with these obligations. An example is that the auxiliary variables (e.g. “name” pursuant to Section 5 (1) number 1 in conjunction with Section 6 of the 2022 Census Act) have to be separated from the survey variables as early as possible and be deleted no later than four years after the census reference date. This is provided for in Section 31 of the 2022 Census Act.
Anonymised results, which are no longer personal data, will not be deleted.

How are the data collected in the census safeguarded?

The census data are subject to statistical confidentiality pursuant to Section 16 of the Federal Statistics Act. To protect the census data, an environment specifically designed for the purpose has been set up. The data will not leave that environment.
The staff of the statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder and of the service providers commissioned are obliged to safeguard statistical confidentiality and, consequently, to protect the name and address of the individuals surveyed. Non-compliance with these obligations will be punished with high fines or imprisonment.

What happens with the data collected in the census after the data have been processed and the results published?

The census data are analysed in an anonymised form. For these analyses, the data are aggregated, totals are formed and averages calculated. No individual cases are shown. The goal is to obtain a reliable data basis for further planning purposes. The data will be deleted as early as possible after the checks are finished, but not later than four years after the census date.

What is the prohibition to transfer the data back to authorities?

The personal data of people surveyed must be kept strictly confidential and must not be passed on to private or public institutions. This means that data may be transferred from the registers of the residents' registration offices or of the real property tax offices to the statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder. It is however not permitted to transfer non-anonymised data, or data that have not been statistically processed, back to the above or other institutions. There is only one direction for the data to flow: to the official statistics agencies.

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