Census 101
  • What questions does the 2020 Census ask?

    • 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.

  • How are the American Community Survey (ACS) and 2020 Census different?

    • 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.

  • Should I complete both the 2020 Census and ACS? 

  • How is the Census data used?

    • 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.

  • What happens to my responses?

    • 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.

  • Will my information be disclosed to other agencies?

    • 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. 

  • How do I know whether someone works for the US Census Bureau?

    • 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. 

  • Is the Census legal?

    • 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.

  • Why did I see an ad for the 2020 Census?

    • 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. 

  • What is redistricting?

    • 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.

  • How is my online response protected?

    • 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.

  • Should a non-US citizen respond to the 2020 Census?

    • 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. 

  • What if I know this person’s race but not their origin?

    • 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.

  • Will filling out the 2020 census impact whether you receive a stimulus check?

    • 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.

 

  • What do we do if more than one person at our address responded? 

    • 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.

  • Is the 2020 Census related to Puerto Rico becoming a state?

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

  • Is the Census form available in different languages? 

  • What is apportionment?

    • 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

  • When can I complete the census?

    • 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.

 

Help Responding Online
  • I received a paper questionnaire in the mail. Can I still respond online?

    • Yes, you still have the option of responding online.

  • What is the confirmation number?

    • The confirmation number that appears after completing your 2020 Census questionnaire online indicates that your response was successfully submitted and no further action is needed from you. You can save this number for you records, if you wish.

  • Can you provide me with a new/different census ID?

    • No, we cannot give you a new Census ID. If you misplaced the ID in your invitation letter, you can wait for a new piece of mail to arrive or you can respond online now without an ID. Go to my2020census.gov. Click or touch "Start Questionnaire." Select the link that says, "If you do not have a Census ID, click here." It is located below the Census ID login field.

  • What do I do if I can’t find my Census ID?

    • Your Census ID is the 12-digit number that can be found on your questionnaire, letter, and postcard. You can still respond online to the 2020 Census even if you did not receive a letter or paper questionnaire. Go to my2020census.gov and select the link that says, "If you do not have a Census ID, click here." It is located below the Census ID login field.

  • I did not receive anything in the mail. How do I respond?

    • You can still respond online to the 2020 Census even if you did not receive a letter or paper questionnaire. Go to my2020census.gov. Select the link that says, "If you do not have a Census ID, click here." It is located below the Census ID login field. 

  • I have a letter that tells me to go online but I can’t. How do I respond?

    • If you are unable to respond online, you can call 844-330-2020 and take the census over the phone. Otherwise, you can complete a paper questionnaire that will be mailed in early April.

  • How do I correct a mistake on the online form?

    • If you feel you have made a mistake, you can return to the online questionnaire and resubmit your information. The Census Bureau has procedures in place to resolve duplicate submissions.

    • If you’ve already responded using your Census ID, select the link that reads "If you do not have a Census ID, click here" to submit a corrected response for your address. Be sure to respond for everyone who was living at your address on April 1.

 
Help with the Paper Form
  • What should I do with the blank pages on my form?

    • As you complete your questionnaire, make sure you count everyone who usually lives and sleeps at your address. Leave remaining pages blank, and return the entire paper questionnaire in the postage-paid envelope provided.

  • I made a mistake on my paper form. How do I correct it?

    • If you need to make a correction to a response on your paper questionnaire, carefully draw a line through the incorrect entry. Then, write the correct information as close as possible to what you crossed out.​

    • If you checked the wrong box, just draw a line through it and mark the correct box for the question.

    • You cannot make changes to your questionnaire once you have mailed it back. If you have serious concerns about your response, you can complete the questionnaire again online.

  • Can I complete the paper form if there are more than six people in my household?

    • Yes. If you have more than six people in your household, you can give the name, sex, age, date of birth, and relationship for up to four additional people on the last page of your questionnaire. If you have more than 10 people in your household, you can use the online form.   

  • How do I receive a paper form?

    • If you have not already responded to the 2020 Census online or by phone, you may receive a paper questionnaire. Paper questionnaires will be mailed in April.

    • However, some remote areas may receive their paper questionnaires from Census Takers. However, 2020 Census field operations are currently delayed due to the evolving COVID-19 crisis. If you don't want to wait, you can respond online or by phone.

  • How can I report a vacancy on a paper questionnaire?

    • You cannot use a paper questionnaire to report a vacant address. You can respond for that address online at my2020census.gov, or report the information by phone.

Calls, Visits, and Mail
  • Why am I being asked about my neighbors address?

    • If the Census Bureau cannot contact someone about an address, we may ask their neighbors for assistance. During each census, some homes that appear vacant actually have people living there. Verifying whether a home is vacant helps us count everyone.

  • What if I am not home when someone comes to conduct the 2020 Census?

    • If you are not at home, the census worker will leave a Notice of Visit. The notice will tell you how to respond to the 2020 Census online or by calling 844-330-2020.

  • Do I need to keep this mail?

    • No, you do not need to keep the mailings after you have responded. You may also disregard reminder mailings, which may have been sent before you responded. However, the U.S. Census Bureau does conduct other annual household surveys that you may also receive mail for in the future.

  • I already completed my 2020 Census, but I still got a phone call from the Census Bureau. Why?

    • Thank you for your participation! A census worker may still visit or contact you to confirm address information, or ask follow-up questions about your responses.

  • Why is the Census ID in my voicemail different than the one in my letter?​

    • Our outreach program uses a different census ID number. Both numbers are linked to your address.

  • Does the Census Bureau send mail to PO Boxes? 

    • No, the Census Bureau cannot mail to P.O. Boxes because they cannot be matched to physical addresses. We need your physical address to count you at the place where you live. Only a complete street address will help us accurately count you in the right place. If you cannot receive mail at your home, a Census Bureau worker may deliver a questionnaire, leave information about responding, or interview you. You can respond now by phone or online at my2020census.gov.

  • I completed the census already, why am I still receiving mail?

    • Thank you for responding. We send invitations and reminders through the mail. If you already responded, the reminder may have been sent before we received your response.

  • I got two letters in the mail, how do I know which ID to use?

    • The Census Bureau maintains an address list, compiled from various sources including the U.S. Postal Service. Sometimes this means we have the same address listed twice. In that case, we may send multiple mailings to the same residence. Check carefully to see if there are any differences at all in the spelling of the addresses. Please look for differences such as formatting or unit numbers.

    • Addresses are the same: Complete the interview for one of the Census IDs. You may continue to receive reminder letters with the other Census ID, but you may disregard them. A census field worker may visit you in the future to ensure we have an accurate accounting for all addresses.

    • Addresses are different: Complete the Census questionnaire using the Census ID on the mailer with the address that most closely resembles the address at which you live. Do not respond using the Census ID on the mailer with the incorrect address. You may continue to receive reminder letters for the incorrect address, but you may disregard them. A census field worker may visit you in the future to ensure we have an accurate accounting for all addresses.

 
Address and Residence Help
  • This address is a vacant home. Should I respond?

    • If you know that no one will be living or staying at this address on April 1, 2020, go to the online questionnaire to answer a few questions about the home at the address.

    • First, enter the Census ID that appears on the 2020 Census letter, postcard, or questionnaire for that address. You will be asked to verify the address and answer whether anyone will be living or staying there on April 1, 2020. A census taker may visit to verify that no one is living or staying there.

  • This is a business. How should I respond?

    • If the address is a business, and no one lives or stays there, respond online to answer a few questions about the address.

    • First, enter the Census ID that appears on the 2020 Census letter, postcard, or questionnaire for that address. Then, answer the questions about whether anyone will be living at the address on April 1, 2020. A census taker may visit to verify that no one is living or staying there.

  • I usually live in another country. Should I respond?

    • You should not respond if you are living in another country on April 1, 2020 (Census Day). The 2020 Census counts everyone who is living in the United States on April 1, 2020. 

    • The Census Bureau works with the U.S. military and other U.S. government agencies to count members of the military, civilian employees, and their dependents living abroad.

  • I live in a group living facility, such as a college dorm or nursing home, but I received a questionnaire in the mail. How do I respond?

    • If you live in a group living facility (such as a college dorm, military barracks, or skilled nursing facility), the Census Bureau has special processes in place to collect your responses to the 2020 Census. Please do not complete the paper questionnaire that was mailed to you.

  • I live independently in an assisted living center or continuing care community. How do I respond?

    • This depends on the type of unit you are living in. Each independent living or assisted living unit is treated as a separate household and will have the option to respond online, by phone, or by mail. People living in skilled-nursing or hospice units will be counted as part of the Group Quarters Operation. If you are not sure if you will be counted as part of the Group Quarter Operation, check with the person who collects your rent. 

  • I usually live in a U.S. territory. How do I respond?

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

  • How did you get my address?

    • The U.S. Census Bureau began an in-office review of the nation’s addresses in 2015. We update this list using information from the U.S. Postal Service, tribal, state, and local governments, satellite imagery, and other sources.

  • I live in Puerto Rico. How do I respond?

    • Census Bureau workers will deliver questionnaires to homes in Puerto Rico. The information you receive will explain how you can respond to the 2020 Census. You can respond online at any time. Go to my2020census.gov and enter the Census ID that appears on your questionnaire.

Operational Adjustments 
  • What operations are resuming?

    • Where it’s safe, census field staff are resuming delivery of census questionnaires, interviewing households in remote parts of Alaska, and resuming the fingerprinting and hiring process for new staff.

    • In select areas, the Census Bureau is resuming the Update Leave operation.  This operation is done in all of Puerto Rico and in stateside areas where the majority of households do not receive mail at their home. Census field staff canvass the area for places people might live, compare what they see to our address list, use a laptop to verify, correct, delete, or add addresses, and leave a census invitation and questionnaire at the front door.

    • Census takers are resuming interviewing households in Alaska’s vast, sparsely settled areas.

    • In states where we have resumed the Update Leave operation, Census Bureau staff are also resuming fingerprinting for new hires to keep applicants moving through the hiring process.

  • How will the public know census staff will be back in the area?

  • What does this mean for people who were in the process of being hired for 2020 Census jobs?

    • The Census Bureau is consulting with local officials on resuming fingerprinting to keep applicants moving through the hiring process. More information is available at https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html.

  • When will the Census Bureau resume operations in other areas of the country?

  • How is the Census Bureau determining where to resume operations?

    • Census Bureau leadership are deciding where to resume operations based on Federal, State, and local public health guidelines, local conditions, and input from local leaders. Career Census Bureau operational leaders are assessing the operating status of a state, locality or tribal area and the ability of the Census Bureau staff to safely resume operations in that area. 

  • When will the Census Bureau resume other 2020 Census field operations?

  • Why is the Census Bureau resuming operations in some areas now?

    • The U.S. Census Bureau has consulted with Federal, State, and local health officials and the Opening Up America Again guidelines and determined that it is safe to resume 2020 Census operations on a phased approach in some areas of the country. Following a thorough review, Census Bureau operational leadership has assessed it’s safe for our employees and the public to restart operations in the select areas. Employees are being trained and equipped to help keep everyone safe while fulfilling our Constitutional mandate to count the U.S. population.

  • How in the Census Bureau protecting employees and the public?

    • As 2020 Census operations resume, the Census Bureau is incorporating the most current Federal, State, and local guidance to promote the health and safety of the public and our employees. The Census Bureau is providing face masks and gloves for employees to wear consistent with Federal, State, and local guidance, along with hand sanitizer. Field staff will complete a virtual COVID-19 training to ensure they follow appropriate social distancing protocols and all appropriate health and safety guidance.

 

Scams
  • I saw an advertisement, social media post, website, email, etc. from an organization claiming to be with the census. Is it legitimate?

  • I got a phone call from the Census Bureau, but it was listed as a “marketing” call on my caller ID. What should I do?

    • Some sources have categorized 2020 Census phone numbers as possible scam numbers. We are working to make sure our numbers are properly categorized. You may have also been contacted about one of the many other Census Bureau surveys.

  • Is this a scam?

    • No. The 2020 Census is happening now, and people have received an invitation to participate delivered to their home by either a postal or census worker.

  • I received an email from the Census Bureau. Is it legit?

    • To ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census, we have updated our communications strategy to include email outreach in areas where many homes have not yet responded. Official Census Bureau emails will be sent from 2020census@subscriptions.census.gov. If you have already responded to the 2020 Census, you may ignore this reminder.

    • Everyone living in the United States and its five territories is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census.

    • If you have opted to participate in Census Bureau research studies, you will be contacted via census@subscriptions.census.gov. Or, If you have sent us a message via the web form on ask.census.gov, you may receive a response from us via email.

    • Additionally, the Census Bureau is currently conducting a survey to measure the impacts of COVID-19 across the United States, and may request your participation via email. This is known as the Household Pulse Survey and is not related to the 2020 Census.

    • If you are selected to participate in the Household Pulse Survey, please note that all Census Bureau emails will be sent from COVID.survey@census.gov. When responding, ensure you are on a valid Census Bureau website by verifying that the website address ends in ".gov." If you are not sure if the communication you received is legitimate, Contact Us.

    •  Even if you are invited to participate in another survey for the Census Bureau, you are still required to respond to the 2020 Census.

 
Who You Should Count
  • My family member is living outside the US. Should I include them on my questionnaire?

    • The 2020 Census counts everyone who is living in the United States on April 1, 2020 (Census Day). If your relative is living in another country on April 1, do not include them on your census form.

    • The Census Bureau works with the U.S. military and other U.S. government agencies to count members of the military, civilian employees, and their dependents living abroad.

  • I rent out part of my home. Should I include the boarder or renter in my questionnaire?

    • If the boarder or renter lives with you and the other members of your household, you should include them on your questionnaire. If the rented portion of your home has a separate address, the boarder or renter should complete their own questionnaire.

  • I rent a portion of a home with no separate address. How do I respond?

    • Everyone living at an address should be included in one response. This can be completed by one person or together as a group.

  • I need to complete the 2020 Census for someone else. How do I respond?

    • You may help if asked, or if you are a legal guardian or executor. If this is the case, and you are knowledgeable about the address, please complete the questionnaire for that household.

    • Keep in mind that you are not responding for yourself on that household's questionnaire. Answer the questions the way the person living at that address would.

  • Where should I count children in a joint custody arrangement?

    • Parents and guardians should count children at the address where they live and sleep most of the time. If a child spends an equal amount of time in two or more homes, count the child where they were staying on April 1, 2020.

  • Should I still count grandchildren living with me if their parents do not live/stay here?

    • Yes. All children, including babies, should be counted at their usual residence, even if their parents do not live and sleep at the same address. The usual residence is where the child lives and sleeps most of the time. If you are not sure, count them at the address of the place where the child was staying on April 1, 2020.

  • Should I include any foster children in my home in my response?

    • Yes, foster children should be counted at their usual residence, where they live and sleep most of the time. If you are not sure, count them at the address of the place where the child was staying on April 1, 2020.

  • Does the census count the children of roommates, housemates, roomers, or tenants?

    • Yes, the children of roommates, housemates, roomers, and tenants should be counted at their usual residence. This means where the child lives and sleeps most of the time. If you are not sure, count them at the address of the place where the child was staying on April 1, 2020.

  • If a college is temporarily closed (including April 1, 2020), where should college students be counted?

    • Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases students living away from home at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • I’m the only person who lives here. How do I respond?

    • Enter 1 for the number of people and provide information for Person One. However, please make sure you count all adults, children, and babies living or staying with you, even if they are only there temporarily.