Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Usual place of residence

Release date: November 17, 2021


Usual place of residence in Canada refers to the main dwelling in which the person lives most of the time. It is used to identify the person as a member of a particular household and, potentially, family (depending on the composition of the household).

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021, 2016, 2011, 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976, 1971, 1966 and 1961.

Reported for

Not applicable

Question number(s)

Not applicable


Not applicable


The concept of usual place of residence is necessary to ensure that residents of Canada are counted once and only once. The use of this concept means that the Canadian census is a de jure census, as opposed to a de facto census. Thus, persons were counted at their usual place of residence, regardless of where they were on the reference day, May 11, 2021. The de jure method has been used since 1871.

In this context, 'person' refers to a Canadian citizen (by birth or by naturalization), a landed immigrant (permanent resident), a person who has claimed refugee status (asylum claimant) and a person from another country with a work or study permit. Family members living with work or study permit holders are also included. Foreign residents are excluded.

A person is considered to be a member of the household at their usual place of residence, only.

For persons with only one residence, that residence is their usual place of residence.

For persons with no residence, their usual place of residence is where they stayed on May 11, 2021.

For persons with more than one residence in Canada, their usual place of residence is the place where the person lives most of the time, with the following exceptions:

For persons with a residence in Canada and a residence outside of Canada, their Canadian residence is their usual place of residence.

Canadian government employees, including Canadian Armed Forces personnel, residing outside Canada for all of the reference period are out of scope for most surveys. The census, which does include them, determines a geographic location for their usual place of residence using the address they used for election purposes, or their last permanent address if they are not already included in the residence of their families.

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