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Who To Count

The Census Bureau is no longer collecting responses to the 2020 Census. This page provided guidance for responding, including where to count yourself and who to count on your questionnaire.

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Where You Are Counted

The goal of the 2020 Census is a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States and its five territories. You should count yourself at the place where you are living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020 (Census Day).

For some, this is straightforward. But others—including college students, service members, and people in health care facilities—may have questions about where they should count themselves or how they should respond. Other circumstances can cause confusion as well, such as moving, having multiple residences, having no permanent address, living in a shelter, or living at a hotel or RV park.

You can find answers to these questions below.

For more details about where people are counted, view the Official Residence Criteria for the 2020 Census.

Count Everyone Living With You

If you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes anyone—related or unrelated to you—who lives and sleeps at your home most of the time.

Please be sure to count roommates, young children, newborns, and anyone who is renting a space in your home. If someone is staying in your home on April 1 and has no usual home elsewhere, you should count them in your response to the 2020 Census.

If someone such as a college student is just living with you temporarily due to the COVID-19 situation, they should be counted where they ordinarily would be living on April 1, 2020.

Please count everyone living in your home. Where there are more people, there are more needs. An accurate count helps inform funding for hospitals, fire departments, schools, and roads for the next 10 years.

Special Circumstances

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Whether you are a high school or college student, your circumstances will determine where you are counted in the 2020 Census:

  • Boarding school students below the college level should be counted at the home of their parents or guardians.
  • Students who are living at home should be counted at their home address.
  • College students who live away from home should be counted at the on- or off- campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are at home on April 1, 2020. This includes students who are home early because of the COVID-19 situation.
  • Students who are living at home should be counted at their home address.
  • College students who live away from home should be counted at the on- or off- campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are at home on April 1, 2020. If they live in housing designed for college students (such as dorms, or apartments with “by-the-bed” leases), they will be counted as part of the Group Quarters Operation. If they live off campus in housing that is not designed for college students (such as a private house or apartment), they should count themselves at that address.
  • High school or college students who are living or studying abroad outside the United States on April 1, 2020, are not counted in the census.
  • Students who are no longer living abroad are counted where they are living in the U.S. on April 1.
  • If someone such as a college student is just living with you temporarily due to the COVID-19 situation, they should be counted where they ordinarily would be living on April 1, 2020.
  • Foreign students living and attending school in the United States should be counted at the on- or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time.
Component ID: #ti2045170354

If you are an active duty service member (or a Reserves or Guard member), your circumstances will determine how you are counted in the 2020 Census:

  • Living in a housing unit on a military base? You can respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail.
  • Living in U.S. barracks on a military base? The Census Bureau will identify a military point of contact on your base to ensure that you are counted. This could mean completing the census form yourself.
  • Living in a campground on a military base? A census worker will visit you at the campground and collect your response.
  • Assigned to a U.S. military vessel? A military point of contact, vessel project officer, commander, or operator will provide a census form for you to complete.
  • Deployed outside the United States on Census Day? Using existing data provided by the Department of Defense, the Census Bureau will count you at the U.S. residence where you live and sleep most of the time.
  • Stationed outside the United States on Census Day? Using existing data provided by the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, the Census Bureau will count you (along with any dependents living with you outside the U.S.) as part of the U.S. federally affiliated overseas population.

Babies born on or before April 1, 2020, should be counted at the home where they will live or sleep most of the time, even if they were still in the hospital on Census Day.

Babies born after April 1, 2020, should not be counted in the 2020 Census.

The following types of patients will be counted at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time:

  • Patients in the hospital for a routine stay.
  • Patients at inpatient hospice facilities.
  • Newborn babies (who should be counted where they will live after leaving the hospital).

The following types of patients will be counted at the health care facility where they were staying on April 1, 2020:

  • People with no usual home.
  • People in psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric units for long-term, nonacute care.
  • People in nursing facilities.

Please visit Counting People in Group Living Arrangements for more information.

People who were alive for any part of the day on April 1, 2020, should be counted in the census. If someone you live with died before April 1, 2020, that person should not be counted on your census form.

If you are a family member of someone who has recently died and has an empty home, or an executor for someone who recently died and whose home did not have anyone staying there on April 1, 2020, you should respond to the Census using the invitation received and enter "zero" for number of residents.

You should count yourself where you live and sleep most of the time, even if you were away from your usual residence on April 1, 2020.

For security reasons, those outside of the United States cannot access the 2020 Census form online. If you are a U.S. resident and traveling out of the country, you can respond to the 2020 Census by phone via a toll-free phone number.

Visitors who were staying in your home on April 1, 2020, but who will return to their normal residence should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time.

Residents of foreign countries who were temporarily visiting the United States on vacation or business on April 1, 2020, should not be counted.

Citizens of foreign countries who are living in the United States, including members of the diplomatic community, should be counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of time.

Citizens of foreign countries who are temporarily visiting the United States on vacation or business on April 1, 2020, should not be counted.

If you live outside the country, and you are not employed by the U.S. government or as a member of the U.S. military, you are not counted in this census.

The Census Bureau will use existing official records to count military and civilian employees of the U.S. government who are living outside the United States as well as the dependents living with them overseas. These individuals do not need to respond to a questionnaire.

If you live at multiple places throughout the year, count yourself at the address where you live and sleep most of the time. If you split your time evenly between two or more places, count yourself where you were staying on April 1, 2020.

If you received an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census at a seasonal or vacation residence where you usually do not live or sleep most of the time, then you can respond online or by phone and answer "no" when asked if you or anyone else was living or staying at that address on April 1, 2020. Then, please respond for the address where you usually live and sleep and include everyone who usually lives with you.

If you are moving, be sure to count yourself just once, in one home. Count yourself where you were living on April 1, 2020.

  • If you moved into your new residence on April 1, count yourself at that residence.
  • If you moved out of your old residence on April 1 but will not move into your new home until April 2 or later, count yourself at the old residence.

People who were living in any of the following facility types on April 1, 2020, will be counted at their facility:

  • Federal and state prisons.
  • Federal detention centers.
  • Local jails and other municipal confinement facilities.
  • Correctional residential facilities.

Please visit Counting People in Group Living Arrangements for more information.

If you are living in an emergency or transitional shelter that provides sleeping facilities for people experiencing homelessness, you will be counted at the shelter. Please visit Counting People in Group Living Arrangements for more information.

If you have been displaced by a natural disaster, you should count yourself where you were living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020. If your usual residence is not condemned or destroyed, you should count yourself there. If your usual residence is condemned or destroyed, you should count yourself where you were staying on April 1, 2020, such as a friend’s or family member’s home or a residence where you are living until your new or previous home is built or repaired.

If you are living or staying at a campground, a recreational vehicle park, a marina, a hotel, or another transitory location, the Census Bureau has a special process in place to make sure you are counted in the 2020 Census. Census takers will visit these locations to conduct interviews in person. If you have a usual home elsewhere, you will be asked to provide the address of that home so that you can be counted there. Please visit How Are People Counted at RV Parks, Campgrounds, and Other Transitory Locations? for more information.

If you do not have a permanent address, you should count yourself where you were living on April 1, 2020. For example, if you are temporarily staying with a friend, you would be counted as part of the census form for their address.

The Census Bureau has specific processes in place to count people who are experiencing homelessness, including people who are in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, and in nonsheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments. In those cases, census takers will coordinate with shelter directors, service providers, partners, and local census offices.

People experiencing homelessness can also go to a public library and complete a census questionnaire online by providing a description of the location where they were sleeping on April 1, 2020.