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How to Take the 2020 Census

The 2020 Census is happening now. You can complete your questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail.

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Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts every person living in the United States. The results of the 2020 Census will help inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to local communities across the country every year for the next decade, and determine how many seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Responding to the census is easy, safe, and important. Your responses are confidential and never shared – they are used for statistical purposes only.

Questions Asked on the Form

The 2020 Census asks simple questions about you and the people who live in your home. The person who fills out the questionnaire for the household is known as “Person 1” on the questionnaire. Answers for other people in the home include how are they related to “Person 1.” The questions are:

  1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2020?
  2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2020, that you did not include in Question 1?
  3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Include home equity loans. Is it owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)? Rented? Occupied without payment of rent?
  4. What is your telephone number?
  5. What is Person 1's name?
  6. What is Person 1's sex?
  7. What is Person 1's age and what is Person 1's date of birth?
  8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
  9. What is Person 1's race?
  10. Print name of Person 2.
  11. Does this person usually live or stay somewhere else?
  12. How is this person related to Person 1?

The Census Bureau will never ask for your full social security number, personal credit card or bank account information, or citizenship status.

The Three Ways You Can Respond

In mid-March, the Census Bureau sent most households an invitation in the mail to encourage everyone to respond online, by phone, or by mail.

  1. Online: The 2020 Census marks the first time households have been invited to respond online—an option that will remain open through October 31. You can even respond on your mobile device. Each mailing the Census Bureau sends includes the website address, my2020census.gov, and most include a unique Census ID number to complete the questionnaire online. If you misplace your ID, you can still use your address to respond.
  2. Phone: Each Census Bureau mailing also includes a toll-free phone number to call to respond to receive assistance completing the questionnaire. You can answer the questions by phone in 12 languages as well as English. Call 844-330-2020 to respond by phone.
  3. Mail: If you didn’t respond by mid-April, you probably received a paper questionnaire in the mail. You can mail the form back in the pre-posted, pre-addressed envelope. An additional reminder will be mailed at the end of July.

How the Census Bureau Will Help You Respond

For those needing assistance responding to the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is ready to help. View the adjusted operational timeline and see details below:

  • People living in Group Quarters—such as military barracks, correctional facilities, and group homes—do not have to respond on their own. From April through September, the Census Bureau will work with administrators of these facilities to count residents living.
  • The Census Bureau will use administrative data from the Department of Defense to count any military members deployed outside the United States during the census.
  • Colleges and universities with on-campus housing will work with the Census Bureau to ensure students who normally lived there during the school year are counted during the Group Quarters operation. If you lived in off-campus housing during the school year alone or with roommates, please respond on behalf of your household using that address.
  • Remote parts of Alaska, Maine, and some American Indian tribal areas will be counted in person by census takers in a special operation called “Update Enumerate.” Part of this operation began in remote Alaska in January, and other areas will continue in June.
  • In Puerto Rico and other areas affected by natural disasters, as well as homes in rural and remote areas and tribal lands that don’t have a traditional mailing address, census workers will personally drop a packet with instructions and a paper questionnaire at each home and update the address of that household. This is called “Update Leave,” and began in earnest in May.
  • For people who speak languages other than English, video language guides, print language guides, and language glossaries will be available in 59 other languages online and distributed by census takers in local communities. The questionnaire is also available online in 12 languages other than English.
  • To respond by phone, please call 844-330-2020 and we will ask you the questions on the 2020 Census. Language support is also offered to those responding over the phone.
  • If you have not responded to the census by early-August, you may be visited at your home by a Census Bureau employee who will help ensure you are counted.

Counting Who Lives in Your Home

If you are filling out the census questionnaire for your home, you should count everyone who usually lived and slept there on April 1, 2020. This includes anyone who lives in your home most of the time, including relatives, friends, roommates, children, and others.

  • Do not include short-term guests or visitors just passing through, including those who were temporarily staying with you due to COVID-19 or other circumstances. However, if someone staying in your home on April 1 had no usual home elsewhere, you should count them in your response to the 2020 Census.
  • If children split time between your home and another one, they should be counted in the home where they spend most of their time. If their time is split evenly, they should be counted in the home where they were sleeping on April 1, 2020.
  • Remember to count all children who live in your home most of the time, including foster children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the children of friends. Don’t forget to count babies who were born on or before April 1, 2020.

Read about other special circumstances for who to count. 

Keeping Your Responses Safe and Secure

When you respond to the census, your answers are kept confidential, and are used only to produce statistics. By law, your responses cannot be shared with law enforcement or immigration agencies.