An absentee is identified on the census dwelling form or the household set-up form as someone who usually lives in a particular dwelling but has not completed a census individual form there – because the person was elsewhere in New Zealand or overseas on census night. Such a person may have completed a census individual form elsewhere in New Zealand.

The dwelling form and household set-up form provide guidance on who to count/not count as an absentee in the census.

Included are children away at boarding school, people away on holiday, away for work, in hospital for a short time, and so on.

Excluded are university or other tertiary students who live somewhere else for most of the year.