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Why do we approve surveys?

Our survey approval process is designed to assess that a survey is necessary, will provide robust data, and is carried out in the most cost-effective way. Options are always considered as to whether it is more cost effective to make use of existing data, to amend an existing survey or to carry out a new survey. The survey approval process ensures that a survey is well designed and does not collect information that could be obtained from another source. This not only ensures that best use is made of public resources; it also reduces the time spent by individuals and businesses completing surveys. Finally, the survey approval process helps us to meet the requirements of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Do you need survey approval?

Are you planning to carry out a ‘statistical survey’?

Are you from one of the organisations the process applies to?

If the answer to either question is ‘no’ then you don’t need to obtain survey approval, but we are always happy to provide you with advice or feedback on your survey.

If the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’ then you need to obtain survey approval. If you are not sure, please read the sections below.

Are you planning to carry out a ‘statistical survey’?

A statistical survey is defined as “any structured inquiry designed to obtain aggregated data…where the individual or corporate identities of the respondents are in themselves of little significance.”

This means that the following could require survey approval:

  • questionnaires
  • telephone interviews
  • face to face interviews
  • user consultations

Giving out feedback forms at the end of a course where all delegates are Welsh Government staff does not require survey approval. Giving feedback forms to non Welsh Government staff can be within the scope of survey approval, to check please contact the survey approval team.

A focus group is (usually) about a dozen people who take part in a detailed talk on some issue. It has been used a lot in market research among potential customers (for example, “what do you think of this product?”). A focus group can help the design of a questionnaire, but the results should not be thought of as representing those of a larger population.

A focus group is not a survey and so does not need survey approval.

Do you work for an organisation that the approval process applies to?

You must obtain survey approval if you are carrying out a survey for:

  • the Welsh Government
  • a Welsh Government sponsored body

For a full list of Welsh Government sponsored bodies, see Annex A.

So how do you put your survey through the process?

The first step is to fill out the survey approval form.

If you are still unsure whether your proposed survey does require approval then please contact us in advance to discuss, This may include surveys which are included as part of a procurement contract – in these circumstances advance discussion with a subject-specific statistician/researcher is recommended. Survey approval will suggest an appropriate statistician/researcher if one is not already involved in the project.

Following any preliminary discussions the next step is to fill out the survey approval form.

Once you have completed the form, send this along with your survey to

Once you have done this we will send your survey to a subject-specific statistician/researcher to review the structure and relevance of the questions. We will subsequently contact you to tell you if survey approval is required, and then what needs to be done (if anything) to get your survey approved. A survey approval number will be issued once approval has been granted.

Survey approval is dependent on the availability of the subject statistician/researcher and their other commitments. We aim to get the survey approved within twenty working days but it is advisable to submit the proposed survey well in advance of the field work start date. Necessary changes to the questionnaire and re-submission will lengthen the process. Larger surveys can take longer, and may need to be sent to the Survey Control Unit at the Office for National Statistics.

Need further information?

Survey approval team
Knowledge and Analytical Services
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ


Annex A: Welsh Government sponsored bodies

  • Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse
  • Arts Council of Wales
  • Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
  • Independent Appeal Panel for Farmers in Wales
  • Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales
  • National Library of Wales
  • National Museum Wales
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
  • Qualifications Wales
  • Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
  • Snowdonia National Park Authority
  • Social Care Wales
  • Sports Wales
  • Welsh Industrial Development Advisory Board