The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has today published new regulatory guidance on collecting and reporting data about sex and gender identity in official statistics.

This guidance supports official statistics producers to apply the principles of the Code of Practice for Statistics when making decisions about the collection and reporting of data about sex and gender identity in official statistics.

We set out the need for official statistics producers to have a strong understanding of their own data collections and how these meet the needs of their users and communicate any limitations. It is important that producers are clear about what they are collecting and why, and that they explain this information as straightforwardly as possible both to respondents and data users.

Key messages

It is the responsibility of official statistics producers to determine whether there is a legitimate need to collect data about sex, gender identity, both or neither, based on identified user and respondent needs. Producers should be clear about what they are collecting and why.

Data about sex and gender identity should be explained and defined for the purpose of a particular set of statistics, and terms, including gender, should not be used interchangeably or as a substitute for each other.

Producers must have a strong understanding of their own data collections and explain the strengths and limitations of their data and statistics.

Statistics should be consistent and coherent with related statistics and data where possible.

Producers should be proportionate when applying the principles of the guidance to their data collections based on the nature of their statistics and the needs of their users.

To develop this guidance, we engaged with official statistics producers across the UK and a range of external stakeholders. This feedback, coupled with the insights from our regulatory work, helped to shape the guidance to ensure it supports the collection, use and communication of statistics in this area. We would like to thank all of those who shared their views with us.

Alongside this guidance, we have written to Emma Rourke, Deputy National Statistician, and to the Chief Statisticians of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, to set out what we would like to see from producers next and to set out our expectations on how this guidance is used and promoted across the UK.

We recognise that this is an evolving area, and we will keep this guidance under review and we will update it when appropriate to support producers. We welcome feedback on this guidance from statistics producers and others at any time – please email us at

Commenting on the guidance the head of OSR Ed Humpherson said:

“Our guidance, rooted in the principles of our Code of Practice, provides a framework for the statistical system to support the effective collection, use and communication of statistics on sex and gender identity. The core aim of the guidance is to encourage producers to think carefully about what they are collecting, and to be aware of the risks of conflating the concepts of sex and gender identity, particularly when they are looking to change existing data collections.”

Notes for editors:

  • The content of this guidance is determined by our remit as the Office for Statistics Regulation, therefore there are some areas that it does not cover:
    • This guidance does not set out harmonised standards for sex or gender identity definitions.
    • This guidance does not determine the requirements of relevant legislation or whether they are being adhered to
  • This guidance updates and supersedes the OSR previous draft guidance on collecting and reporting data about sex in official statistics, published in 2021.

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