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Conducting the Count

An overhead look at a suburban community.

The 2020 Census is a massive undertaking. It requires counting a diverse and growing population in the United States and the five U.S. territories. To do this, the U.S. Census Bureau must:

  • Make an accurate list of every residence in the U.S. and five U.S. territories—including houses, apartments, dormitories, military barracks, and more.
  • Get a member of every residence to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail in March and April of 2020.
  • Follow up in person with homes that have not responded.

Collecting Responses

There are three ways that the Census Bureau will initially collect responses from people for the 2020 Census: online, by phone, and by mail.

By April 1, 2020, you will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home.

Starting in May 2020, the Census Bureau will begin following up in person with homes that have not responded to the census.

Counting Everyone in the Right Place

To ensure a complete and accurate count, the Census Bureau counts people at their usual residence, which is the place where they live and sleep most of the time, with a few exceptions. People who do not have a usual residence should be counted where they are on Census Day (April 1, 2020).

The Census Bureau has special processes in place to ensure that everyone in the 50 states, District of Columbia and five U.S. territories is counted. To learn more, please visit the following pages:

If you have questions about how to count yourself, or someone in your family, visit Who to Count.

For the first time, you'll be able to respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail. Sign up for the latest news and updates.


Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM)

ROAM makes it easier for government officials, community leaders, and businesses to start planning their outreach for the 2020 Census. The tool provides guidance, taken from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, about areas that have been hard to count.

The 2020 Census begins by counting people in remote Alaskan villages and communities in January to account for travel challenges in the spring months.

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