The 2021 Census was the first to ask people in England and Wales if they had previously served in the UK armed forces.
People were asked if they had previously served in the regular or reserve UK armed forces, or both.
Overall, 1,853,112 people in England and Wales reported that they had previously served in the UK armed forces, 3.8% of the population aged over 16 years old.
The question regarding veterans was added in order to better meet the needs of service providers and others who support veterans.
1.4 million veterans residing in England and Wales had previously served in the regular armed forces only, while 361,000 (19.5%) had served only in the reserve armed forces. 4.3% of veterans had served in both.
The proportion of veterans was higher in Wales than in England, 4.5% of the population compared to 3.8%.
In England, the South West (265,000) and the North East (109,000) were the two regions with the highest proportion of veterans. London, with 101,000 veterans, was the region in 2021 with the smallest veteran population.
The areas with the highest proportion of veterans tended to be near existing armed forces bases. The three local authorities with the highest proportion of veterans were Gosport (12.5%), North Kesteven (10.2%) and Richmondshire (9.5%). The Welsh local authority with the highest proportion of veterans was Conwy with 5.9%.
The hope is that better data surrounding veterans, and where they live in the UK, will aid support services in their allocation of support and care for veterans across England and Wales.