Here’s What To Do If You Don’t Have Your Census Code

Here’s What To Do If You Don’t Have Your Census Code

This year’s Australian Census is being conducted primarily online. Last week you should have received your 12-digit Census Login number which you need to log into the online survey. But what happens if you accidentally misplaced it? Here’s what you need to know.

The 2016 Census is scheduled to take place tonight (Tuesday, August 9.) In order to use the eCensus, you’ll need to enter your 12 digit Census Login which every household received over the past few days. This was included in the Census Instruction Letter which sports green text and a padlock symbol on the envelope.

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If your household is anything like mine, any important document that isn’t nailed down has a strong likelihood of disappearing into the ether. Sometimes the kids turn it into a paper doll chain. Other times it’s been accidentally tossed out with the junk mail. But usually, it’s been put in a “safe” location that nobody can remember. (Don’t be ashamed: it happens to the best of us!)

Unfortunately, losing your eCensus letter isn’t a good enough excuse for not completing the survey. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has the power to fine people who fail to participate in the Census, with potential penalties of $180 per day. In practice, only a very small proportion of the people who have failed to provide the data have ever been charged, but it’s probably not something you want to risk. (For more information on willfully dodging the Census, click here.)

So what should you do if the letter containing your code has gone AWOL? Instead of waiting for the ABS’ Census collectors to start hounding you, contact them immediately and request a new code.

As the ABS explains on its website:

“If you have lost your letter or it doesn’t arrive by Census night on 9 August 2016, contact the Census Inquiry Service.”

On the aforementioned Census Inquiry Service page, click on the “Send an inquiry” form and explain your situation in the text box. A Census representative should get back to your shortly. [clear] Alternatively, you can call the ABS on 1300 214 531 and follow the prompts. Be prepared for lengthy delays, but once you get through the ABS will send you an SMS with your code. Too easy! (You can also request a paper copy if you prefer.)

More On Census 2016:


  • If your household is anything like mine, any important document that isn’t nailed down has a strong likelihood of disappearing into the ether.

    To avoid a messy mix-up with the chemical term ether – Any of a class of organic compounds in which two hydrocarbon groups are linked by an oxygen atom – this is one word that I believe should be spelt in the archaic æther to make sure it’s very differentiated.

    That is, unless your kids tend to drop your letters into aromatic hydrocarbons a lot.

  • ether
    the clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds.
    “nasty gases and smoke disperse into the ether”

  • If you don’t submit your census, you’re very likely to receive a visit from a Census Officer, and they’ll bring a paper form too!

    • That’s convenient, given that it’s nigh impossible to get through to them on the phone.

    • I suspect this is the only way I’ll receive my form. I’ve been waiting 10 days already and still waiting.

  • I’ve misplaced/lost my census login. I’ve sent an inquiry to ABS and also tried calling. Doesn’t seem to get me very far: no response yet.
    Do they issue fines straight away or do they resend a login? Want to try avoid a fine if possible.

    • As long as you’re willing to complete the Census you won’t be fined. Fines are only used as a last resort for people who refuse to participate. It’s not like a late fee.

    • I have lost my login census numbers. I don’t know if am going to give another number or am going to get a fine .

    • I wouldn’t worry – you should have one (possibly two) inquiry reference numbers from the automated email reply – proof you’re trying to complete the census. As Chris says, the fines are used where people aren’t willing to do it.

      My guess is the ABS are knee deep in people like you (and me) who’ve misplaced the letter.

  • Even if you aren’t issued with a number soon, the initial response from the ABS to a household not submitting a form is to send out a reminder letter. If you do not respond to the letter, someone will make an in person visit to your house. If you are not home, they will leave you another reminder. Only at that point would a daily fine become relevant, and only commencing from the day you don’t respond to the visit. No need to panic yet. And as said previously. you are already recorded in their system as having inquired, so it would never get to that point. They are fining people who refuse to participate, not people who misplace their access code 🙂

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