Learn how to access English, Scottish and Welsh enumerations of your ancestors.
Great Britain has taken a census every 10 years since 1801 (except 1941), but the first four censuses recorded only statistical data. Beginning with the first genealogically useful census, taken in 1841, British censuses list every member of every household. These records are open to the public after 100 years, so 1901 is the most recent year you can view.
The Family Records Centre holds English and Welsh census returns. You'll find Scottish census records at the General Register Office for Scotland. All available censuses have been microfilmed, and you can order them through an FHC.
FamilySearch lets you search a transcription of the 1881 census of England and Wales for free (click on the Search tab, then on Census). Alas, you'll have to pay to view the transcription for Scotland; you can access it on the ScotlandsPeople Web site or order it on CD along with the English and Welsh records.