Usual residence address (information about this variable and its quality)

Variable Description

Usual residence address (information about this variable and its quality) en-NZ
Usual residence address (information about this variable and its quality) en-NZ

Usual residence is the address of the dwelling where a person considers that they usually live. The 2018 Census provides the following guidelines for identifying usual residence:

  • if you are a primary or secondary school student at boarding school, give your home address
  • if you are a tertiary student, give the address where you live during term
  • if you live in more than one dwelling, give the address of the one you most consider to be your home. If you spend equal amounts of time at different addresses, give only one of those addresses
  • children in shared care should give the address where they spend most nights. If children spend equal amounts of time at different addresses, they should give only one of those addresses.

Usual residence indicator describes the relationship between a person's usual residence and their census night address. The four categories for usual residence indicator, excluding residual categories, are:

  • same as census night address
  • elsewhere in New Zealand
  • overseas
  • no fixed abode.
Other Variable Information

Priority level

Priority level 1

We assign a priority level to all census variables: Priority 1, 2, or 3 (with 1 being highest and 3 being the lowest priority).

Usual residence is a priority 1 variable. Priority 1 variables are core census variables that have the highest priority in terms of quality, time, and resources across all phases of a census.

The priority level for usual residence remains the same as 2013.

Quality Management Strategy and the Information by variable for usual residence (2013) have more information on the priority rating.

Overall quality rating for 2018 Census

High quality

Data quality processes section below has more detail on the rating for this variable.

The External Data Quality Panel has provided an independent assessment of the quality of this variable and has rated it as high quality. Initial Report of the 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel has more information

Subject population

Census night population

However, data on usual residence is generally output for the census usually resident population.

‘Subject population’ means the people, families, households, or dwellings to whom the variable applies.

How this data is classified

Usual residence classification V10.0.0

The usual residence classification consists of meshblock and country classifications that are ordinarily stored independently of each other. The country classification sits alongside the New Zealand meshblock classification, in the same level of the usual residence classification.

Usual residence is a seven-digit code classification.

  • Meshblock codes (7 digits)
  • Country codes (4 digits) prefixed by '999'

The only applicable residual code in 2018 is:

  • ‘9999997: Country not stated’

This residual code was used for respondents who indicated they live overseas but did not specify a country.

Usual Residence Indicator - Standard ClassificationV2.0.0

Usual residence indicator is a flat classification with four categories.

1 Same as Census Night Address

2 Elsewhere in New Zealand

3 Overseas

4 No Fixed Abode

The classifications of usual residence in the 2018 Census are consistent with the classifications used in previous censuses.

The Standards and Classifications page provides background information on classifications and standards.

Question format

A person’s usual residence is collected on the household set-up form for online responses and question 4 on the paper individual form.

Stats NZ Store House has samples for both the individual and dwelling paper forms.

There were changes in the way that usual residence was collected in 2018. More individual forms were completed online, compared with the 2013 Census.

In 2018, there were differences between the question format in the online and paper versions of this question.


  • usual residence address was pre-populated by the access code
  • an as-you-type list populated the response if the respondent wanted to enter a different address
  • free text responses only occurred where the respondent did not select an address from this list
  • usual residence information had to be reconfirmed or entered before an online form could be submitted.

Paper individual forms:

  • a respondent could leave the question blank
  • responses outside the valid range were possible, for example, multiple responses or responses that were not in scope of the question.

Paper forms required more editing than online forms to correct these invalid responses.

How this data is used

Outside Stats NZ

  • Formulating, monitoring, and evaluating central and local government policy.
  • Determining target markets for businesses.

Within Stats NZ

  • Input to population estimates and projections, providing information on how communities are changing.
  • Basis for identifying location of the usually resident population.
  • Foundation for data about neighbourhoods, communities, regions.
  • Used in conjunction with ‘usual residence five years ago’ and ‘usual residence one year ago’ data to produce data on population mobility and internal migration.
  • Setting electoral boundaries as required under the Electoral Act.

2018 data sources

We used alternative data sources for missing census responses and responses that could not be classified or did not provide the type of information asked for. Where possible, we used responses from the 2013 Census, administrative data from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), or imputation.

The table below shows the breakdown of the various data sources used for this variable.

2018 Usual residence – census usually resident population
Source Percent
Response from 2018 Census 88.5 percent
2013 Census data 0.0 percent
Administrative data 11.1 percent
Statistical imputation 0.3 percent
No information 0.0 percent
Total 100.0 percent
Due to rounding, individual figures may not always sum to the stated total(s)

Administrative data sources

Data from the range of sources available in the IDI was used to source address information. When people change addresses, they usually contact a number of different organisations to notify them of the change. This change of address information is then kept in an address notification table in the IDI. Stats NZ used the table to create a prioritised address history for all individuals where address information exists, specifically for 2018 Census purposes. We used a set of business rules to limit the full address table to a list of residential addresses.

Address notifications came from the following sources in the IDI:

  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Inland Revenue
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Household Economic Survey (Stats NZ)
  • New Zealand Transport Authority
  • Household Labour Force Survey (Stats NZ)
  • Auckland City Mission
  • Department of Corrections
  • Ministry of Defence.

Addition of administrative records to the New Zealand 2018 Census dataset: An overview of statistical methods has more information on the methodology.

Please note that when examining usual residence data for specific population groups within the subject population, the percentage that is from administrative data and statistical imputation may differ from that for the overall subject population.

Missing and residual responses

In 2018, if a respondent did not answer the usual residence address question or did not provide the type of information asked for, we imputed a response or used alternative administrative sources.

In previous censuses, we also used imputation to provide a usual residence for those who had completed a census form but did not answer the ‘usual residence’ question. Where we didn’t receive a form, we created a substitute form and imputed responses.

2013 Census data user guide provides more information about non-response and imputation in the 2013 Census.

Data quality processes

Overall quality rating: High quality

Data was evaluated to assess whether it meets quality standards and is suitable for use.

Three quality metrics contributed to the overall quality rating:

  • data sources and coverage
  • consistency and coherence
  • data quality.

The lowest rated metric determines the overall quality rating.

Data quality assurance for 2018 Census provides more information on the quality rating scale.

Data sources and coverage: Very high quality

We have assessed the quality of all the data sources that contribute to the output for the variable. To calculate a data sources and coverage quality score for a variable, each data source is rated and multiplied by the proportion it contributes to the total output.

The rating for a valid census response is defined as 1.00. Ratings for other sources are the best estimates available of their quality relative to a census response. Each source that contributes to the output for that variable is then multiplied by the proportion it contributes to the total output. The total score then determines the metric rating according to the following range:

  • 98–100 = very high
  • 95–<98 = high
  • 90–<95 = moderate
  • 75–<90 = poor
  • <75 = very poor.

Admin data was mostly comparable, and data sourced through statistical imputation moderately comparable, to 2018 Census responses.

The high proportion of data from received forms and admin sources in comparison to the low proportion sourced from statistical imputation contributed to the very high quality rating of 0.98, determining the very high quality rating.

Quality rating calculation table for the sources of usual residence data –
2018 census night population
Source Rating Percent of total Score contribution
2018 Census form 1.00 83.95 0.84
2018 Census (missing from individual forms) 1.00 4.59 0.05
Admin data 0.84 11.12 0.09
Within household donor 0.70 0.05 0.00
Donor’s 2018 Census form 0.60 0.21 0.00
Donor’s 2018 Census (missing from individual form) 0.60 0.03 0.00
Donor’s response sourced from admin data 0.50 0.05 0.00
Donor's response sourced from within household 0.42 <0.01 0.00
Total 100.00 0.98
Due to rounding, individual figures may not always sum to the stated total(s) or score contributions.

Data sources, editing, and imputation in the 2018 Census has more information on the Canadian census edit and imputation system (CANCEIS) that was used to derive donor responses.

Consistency and coherence: Very high quality

Usual residence in the 2018 Census is very highly comparable with the 2006 and 2013 Census data. Usual residence data is highly consistent with expectations across all consistency checks.

Data quality: High quality

The data quality checks for usual residence included edits for consistency within the dataset and cross-tabulations to the Statistical Area 2 level (SA2) of geography.

Based on data quality, the rating is high. This rating means that the data has only minor data quality issues, the quality of coding is high, and any impact of alternative data sources usage is minor.

Recommendations for use and further information

The overall quality of the usual residence data is high and comparable with 2006 and 2013 data. Data has been checked down to SA2 level, with no data issues found for these geographies.

Contact our Information Centre for further information about using this variable

This variable is not part of a dataset.


Aggregation Method


Conceptual Variable
concept-16.png Location en-NZ



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Revision Date Responsibility Rationale
13 30/11/2021 2:59:20 PM