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Census 101

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The 2020 Census asks how many people are living or staying at each address. For each person, we ask about name, sex, age, date of birth, relationship, Hispanic origin, and race. We also will ask whether the housing unit, such as the house, apartment, or mobile home, is owned or rented, and for contact information in case additional information is needed. There is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

Learn more about the questions asked.

The 2020 Census counts each person in the U.S., where they live on April 1.  The decennial census happens every ten years ending in zero.

Unlike the decennial census, the American Community Survey is an ongoing survey that only collects information from selected addresses.  The American Community Survey asks questions that are not on the census.  This includes education, employment, and transportation, and provides communities with up-to-date data every year.

Yes.  Please respond to both the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey.  For help with the American Community Survey, call 800-354-7271 or visit https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs.

By law, the U.S. Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics. 2020 Census results will help in directing billions of dollars in federal funds to communities for schools, roads, and other public services. Results from the 2020 Census will also help to determine the number of seats that each state has in Congress.

Learn more about why your answers matter.

We take our responsibility to protect your information very seriously. The Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015 ensures sure that your data is protected from cybersecurity risks. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. By law, the Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics. If you respond online, all web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy. If you respond using a paper questionnaire, your completed questionnaire will be destroyed after processing.

No. Your information is completely confidential and protected by law and cannot be shared with any other government agencies, including law enforcement or immigration officials. Federal law (U.S. Code Title 13, Section 9) protects your privacy and keeps your answers safe and secure. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics. 

All Census Bureau workers carry official government badges and should identify themselves immediately when they come to your home. There is useful information on our website to help respondents better understand what census takers ask and don't ask for when conducting their work. You can also call your local regional office for verification. Find regional offices' phone numbers on our Regional Census Center page.

Yes. Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. constitution requires that this population and housing count occur every 10 years. We are conducting the 2020 Census under the authority of U.S. Code Title 13, sections 141, 193, and 221. This collection of information has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

To increase awareness and educate the public about the importance of the census, the Census Bureau is advertising across television, radio, print, digital, and other channels. This advertising is used to encourage people to respond to the 2020 Census in a cost-effective way. You can find more information about the Census Bureau’s media plan on News and Events.

The 2020 Census asks questions that collect information necessary for redistricting. Redistricting is the redrawing of boundaries for the areas that are used to determine where people elect their representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislature, county or city council, school board, and so forth. Law (Public Law 94-171) requires that the redistricting data be delivered to state officials within one year of Census Day or no later than April 1, 2021.

The Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. All online responses are encrypted to protect your privacy. To learn more, please visit How the Census Bureau Protects Your Data.

Yes. Everyone living in the United States and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) is required by law to be counted in the census—whether they are citizens or not.

Citizens of foreign countries who are living in the United States during the 2020 Census, including members of the diplomatic community, should be counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of time. If they are not sure about where they usually live, count them where they are staying on April 1, 2020.

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

When answering "What is this person's race?", you are asked to select one or more boxes and enter detailed origins in the fields below each checkbox.
If you check a box, but leave the origin fields blank, a message will appear at the top of the screen and the blank field will be highlighted in red.
If you do not know this person's origin, click next again to continue completing your response.

No, your answers cannot be used to impact your eligibility for any government benefits, including any potential stimulus package. The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential, and the answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. Learn more about How We Protect Your Data.

If more than one person in your household responded to the Census, you do not need to do anything. When we receive multiple responses for an address, we have procedures in place to prevent people from being counted twice. If we have any questions about your response, a Census Bureau worker may contact you.

No, Puerto Rico can only become a state through congressional or legislative action.

Yes. You can respond online in English and in 12 additional languages: Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.

The online questionnaire conforms with the latest web accessibility guidelines. There is also a video in American Sign Language to guide you through responding online.

We also make help available by phone in those same languages. You can respond by phone in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese.

The paper form can be completed in English or Spanish.

Apportionment is the process of determining the number of representatives in Congress. Each state's representation in the U. S. House of Representatives is based on the decennial census. The U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2) established that the apportionment of the House of Representatives would be determined using a national census once every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau must deliver the apportionment results to the President and Congress by December 31, 2020.  

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted 2020 Census operations. In order to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is seeking an extension from Congress of 120 additional calendar days to deliver final apportionment counts. Under this plan, the Census Bureau would extend the window for field data collection and self-response to October 31, 2020, which will allow for apportionment counts to be delivered to the President by April 30, 2021, and redistricting data to be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021. To view information about the updated timelines, visit Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19

Once you receive your invitation.  Households will receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12-20. There are additional reminders to respond that will be mailed throughout the month. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail. If a household does not respond to the 2020 Census, a census taker will follow up in person to collect their response. This will occur between September-October.