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Census 101

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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.

The 2020 Census counts each person in the U.S. where they lived 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.

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 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 responded online, all web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy. If you responded 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.

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.

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.

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.

If you were living in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, a Census Bureau worker will have contacted you to complete your questionnaire in person. You did not need to complete your 2020 Census questionnaire online. Visit Island Areas to learn more.

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 were living in the United States during the 2020 Census, including members of the diplomatic community, should have been counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of time. If they were not sure about where they usually live, they should have been counted where they are staying on April 1, 2020.

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

To increase awareness and educate the public about the importance of the census, the Census Bureau was 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 asked how many people are living or staying at each address. For each person, we asked about name, sex, age, date of birth, relationship, Hispanic origin, and race. We also asked 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.

Learn more about the questions asked.