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Conducting the Count

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The 2020 Census is a massive undertaking. It will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of around 330 million people. To do this, the U.S. Census Bureau must:


  • Make an accurate list of every house, apartment, and residence.
  • Get as many people as possible to complete the census online, over the phone, or by mail in March and April 2020.
  • Follow up in person with households that don't respond.

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Collection Methods


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

By April 1, 2020, households will receive an invitation to participate in the census. They can then respond using one of those three methods.

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

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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).

We have special procedures to count people who live in more complex situations, including:


  • People experiencing homelessness.
  • Students.
  • People in correctional facilities.
  • Service members.
  • People living in shelters.
To learn more, visit Who to Count on My Census.

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Sign Up for a 2020 Census Reminder


For the first time, you'll be able to respond to the census online! Sign up for an email reminder to complete the 2020 Census.

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