Last updated
22 Nov 2021

What is your ethnic group?

What does ‘ethnic group’ mean? 

Your ethnic group could be your cultural or family background.

It is up to you how you answer this question.

If you are unsure of your ethnic group, you should select the option that you think is most appropriate.

Why is this question asked? 

It is important to capture this information. It contributes to a better understanding of the diversity of Scotland.

Your answer to this question allows providers to design services to meet the needs of your community.

It also supports efforts to make sure people are treated fairly and promote a more equal society.

How do I answer this question?

First, choose the group that best describes you. Then choose one option from the section that best describes your ethnic group or background.

You may need to write in your ethnic group in the space provided.

Some boxes have a list of ethnic groups (for example, 'Pakistani, Scottish Pakistani or British Pakistani'). The list simply shows all the ethnic groups which are included in that category, so you can tick the box if your ethnic group is any of those in the list. 

My ethnic group is not listed. How do I answer?

Use the response options to help guide you. If you feel that none of the options provided are appropriate, select 'Other’ under the group you feel most closely matches you. You can then write in your ethnic group.

I am answering for someone else. How do I answer?

If you are answering on behalf of someone else, where possible you should ask them how they want to answer. If they are away, select the answer you think they would choose.

Answering individual questions in private

Any member of the household aged 16 or over can use an individual questionnaire to provide answers in private.

They can do this either online using an Internet Access Code or on paper.

If a person chooses to complete an individual questionnaire:

  • they must still be included as a household member on the household questionnaire
  • we will use answers from individual questionnaires if they are different from those on the household questionnaire
  • the household will not be informed of the request to complete an individual questionnaire
  • they have a legal responsibility to complete it

You can find out more about completing an individual questionnaire.


Your census return will be kept secure and will be confidential for 100 years.

It is against the law for anybody who works on the census to make public any personal details from the census during the 100 year period.

You can find out more about how we store and use census information.

Who should answer this question?

Everyone should answer this question

I am answering on paper. How many options can I select?

You should choose one section from A to F and then select one option within that section that best describes your ethnic group or background.

If I select an option that has a list of options (for example, 'Pakistani, Scottish Pakistani or British Pakistani'), do I need to circle the one that applies and/or cross out the ones that do not apply? 

No, the list simply shows all the groups which are included in that category, so you can select the option if your ethnic group is any of those in the list. You should not circle or cross out any of the terms.

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