Register-based census

Register-based Census 2011 – The Movie

Follow us on a short trip from the traditional census to the new register-based census!



Idea and text: Census team / Animation: Pascale Osterwalder
Speaker: Edith Wildmann / Sound: Lollo Pichler.

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

This video is also available in German: Registerzählung - der Film.

The register-based census as replacement for the Population Census, Housing (buildings and dwellings) Census, as well as the Census of Enterprises and their Local Units of Employment

The Register-based Census Act of 16th March 2006 represents a turning point in the history of the Population Census, Housing Census, and the Census of Enterprises and their Local Units of Employment in Austria. For the first time, the information needed is not collected from the citizens themselves, but is taken directly from already existing administrative registers.

According to Regulation (EC) No 763/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council, the first register-based census was conducted in 2011, with reference date 31st October. Currently the Census 2021 is in progress.

The Central Population Register represents the backbone of the register-based census. The other base registers are the Housing Register of Buildings and Dwellings (HR), the Business Register of Enterprises and their Local Units (BR), and the Register of Educational Attainment (EAR), all of which are maintained by Statistics Austria itself, as well as the Central Social Security Register (CSSR), the Unemployment Register (UR) and the Tax Register (TR, not including data about the income).

Apart from auxiliary variables, mainly data that has also been collected for the census in 2001 is used in the register-based census. Some attributes like occupation or variables related to commuting to work or school like the duration of the journey or the means of transport cannot be collected, because they are not available in any register. Religion and the colloquial language must not be included unless a respective regulation is issued. For the census in 2011, as well as for the register-based census 2021 the collection of those attributes is not allowed.

Why a register-based census?


Register-based censuses are being conducted instead of conventional censuses, because

  • they are less expensive,
  • the data is available sooner,
  • there is no response burden anymore,
  • a lot of the information needed is available in the different registers,
  • a time span of 10 years in between the censuses is too long and it would be too expensive to conduct a conventional census more often; register-based censuses can be conducted every 5 years.


  • through optimal use of existing registers and administrative data,
  • through clarification of the definitions of the topics and attributes, and harmonisation if possible,
  • through improvement of the register quality, if necessary, and
  • through merging of the registers by unique identifiers

the register-based census should provide the best possible reflection of reality with reasonable costs.

Which registers?

Base registers

  • Central Population Register
  • Housing Register of Buildings and Dwellings (STAT)
  • Business Register of Enterprises and their Local Units (including the Agricultural and Forestry Register) (STAT)
  • Central Social Security Register
  • Tax Register
  • Unemployment Register
  • Register of Educational Attainment
  • Register of Enrolled Pupils & Students

Comparison registers

  •  Child Allowance Register
  • Registers of public servants of the federation and the federal states (NUTS2 level)
  • Central Foreigner Register
  • Register of Social Welfare Recipients
  • Register of Alternative Civilian Service
  • Conscription Register
  • Register of car owners

Protection of Data Privacy

In close collaboration with the divisions within the Austrian Federal Chancellery responsible for data privacy and e-government, a data collection and linking method was developed, which eliminates the direct personal references in the data delivered to Statistics Austria while still allowing for linking the records. This is made possible by the e-government law. Each register that has to provide data for the register-based census delivers them with a so-called "branch-specific personal identification number for official statistics” (bPIN OS) and their own branch-specific PIN for every record, both of which are generated by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. The bPIN OS can only be deciphered by Statistics Austria and does not allow for drawing any conclusions about the persons themselves. Thus, Statistics Austria receives a completely anonymised data set that can be linked with the help of the bPIN OS to the data sets from other registers, which are anonymised in the same way.

Accordingly, better data protection is warranted compared to a conventional census, in which the census personnel, who had to conduct the interviews and review the results, often lived in the same municipality as the interviewed citizens and knew them personally.


Results of the Register-based census 2011

The final results of the Register-based census 2021 will be available in 2023.