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Census 2020 FAQs


Questions ABOUT: The Census  |  How to Respond  |  The Questionnaire  |  Your Confidentiality & Privacy


ABOUT THE CENSUS: 

What is the 2020 Census?

Responding to the 2020 Census is a chance to shape your future.

The census is a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories. It is required by the Constitution and it happens once every 10 years. The count is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.

The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of our nation—who we are, where we live, and so much more. The results affect funding, decision-making, and representation for our communities.

Why is it important?

The 2020 Census will inform allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, provide data that will impact local community decisions and businesses, and determine representation at the state and national level.

The census provides critical data that lawmakers, businesses, teachers, and others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Federal Funding
Your responses inform how $675 billion in funding is distributed each year to communities for healthcare, schools, roads, emergency services, and other important programs and services for individuals and families.

Community Business Decisions
Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about building community centers, opening businesses, recruiting employees, expanding operations, and planning for the future.

Representation
Your responses are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts and determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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How does it work?

You have the option to respond online, by phone, or by mail.

Starting in March, you will get a letter in the mail inviting you to complete the 2020 Census. (You may also receive a paper questionnaire.) The invitation will include a unique Census ID that links you to a physical address. You can respond online or by phone with or without the unique Census ID. You can also respond by submitting the paper questionnaire by mail.

Sample Invitation Letter
Sample Census Questionnaire | Español

The Census is easy. You answer a simple questionnaire about yourself and everyone who is living with you.

Is it safe?

The Census is safe, secure, and confidential.

All 2020 Census responses are kept confidential and private. It is the law. Your responses cannot be shared and cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way.

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What should I expect?

The 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond. Households will receive an invitation either in the mail or in person from a census taker.
➤ Read more

The Census Bureau has special procedures to count people who do not live in households, such as students living in dorms, people living in nursing homes, or people experiencing homelessness.
Read more

View a list of Important Census 2020 Dates


ABOUT HOW TO RESPOND TO THE CENSUS 

How do I respond to the 2020 Census?

There are 3 ways to respond: online, by phone, or by mail.

You will be asked to count everyone who lives in your home.

The Census is accessible to all and is available in multiple languages plus guides in other formats including sign language, braille, and large print.

How do I respond online?

Go to 2020census.gov to complete the 2020 Census online

➤ Click here to view a video about how to respond online.

Important things to keep in mind:
➤ You must complete the questionnaire in one session. If you leave the website, you will have to start over.
➤ Use the buttons within the questionnaire to navigate; do not use the web browser buttons.
➤ For best results, use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. Enable cookies.

How do I respond without a Census ID?
If you do not have your 12-digit census id number that was mailed to you, you can still complete the online form using your address.
➤ Read more

How do I respond by phone?

You can call these toll-free numbers for assistance or to respond to the 2020 Census by phone.

➤ English: 844-330-2020
➤ Spanish: 844-468-2020
➤ Telephone Display Device (TDD): 844-467-2020
➤ Chinese (Mandarin): 844-391-2020
➤ Chinese (Cantonese): 844-398-2020
➤ Vietnamese: 844-461-2020
➤ Korean: 844-392-2020
➤ Russian: 844-417-2020
➤ Arabic: 844-416-2020
➤ Tagalog: 844-478-2020
➤ Polish: 844-479-2020
➤ French: 844-494-2020
➤ Haitian Creole: 844-477-2020
➤ Portuguese: 844-474-2020
➤ Japanese: 844-460-2020

How do I respond by mail?

Complete the paper questionnaire form that you receive at home and mail it back to the Census Bureau.

Click here to explore the questions and the form.
Click here for the guide to the paper questionnaire in English.
Click here for guides to the paper questionnaire in other languages or other formats.

What happens if I do not respond?

If you do not respond online, by phone, or by mail, the Census Bureau will follow up in person.

You can respond securely online, by mail, or by phone. Households that do not respond in one of these ways will be visited by a census taker to collect the information in person.

Regardless of how you respond, your personal information is protected by law.

Responding fulfills your civic duty. The Constitution requires the Census once every 10 years. This year will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.

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ABOUT THE CENSUS QUESTIONNAIRE 

Who counts?

Everyone counts!

It is important to count everyone who is living in your home as of April 1, 2020. This includes any friends or family members who are living and sleeping there most of the time. Please also be sure to count roommates, young children, newborns, and anyone who is renting a space in your home.
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The Census also counts people in other living arrangements such as military personnel, college students, healthcare facilities, or people experiencing homelessness.
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What are the questions about?

The 2020 Census is easy. You answer a simple questionnaire about yourself and everyone living with you.

➤ Click here to learn about what the form looks like, how to fill it out, and why they ask certain questions.

Your responses are important. Census data informs how billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other community resources every year

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What questions are not asked?

There is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The Census Bureau will never ask for:
➤ your Social Security number or ID
➤ money or donations
➤ anything on behalf of a political party
➤ your bank or credit card account numbers

If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it is a scam, and you should not cooperate.

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What happens to my answers?

Your personal information is kept confidential. The Census Bureau is bound by federal law to protect your information. Your data is used only for statistical purposes.

Your responses are compiled with information from other homes to produce statistics, which never identify your home or any person in your home.

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Are there other languages available?

The Census form will be available in English and 12 additional languages.

Videos and guides will be available in 59 languages.

Click here for Language Support.

What about accessibility?

The 2020 Census is accessible for everyone. You can choose to respond online, by phone, or by mail.

Click here to access braille and large print Census Guides to assist with the paper questionnaire.
Click here for the American Sign Language video to guide you through responding online.
➤ Respond in English by TDD at 844-467-2020.

Can library staff help with questions?

Only Census Bureau employees may collect responses directly from individuals, and only they are sworn for life to keep an individual’s responses confidential.

Library staff can encourage people to respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail.

Library staff can only explain basic features of the online form, such as how to navigate the pages or change the language.


ABOUT YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY 

How does the Census Bureau protect my information?

The Census Bureau has a legal duty to protect your information. Every Census employee is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential.

Your private data is protected and cannot be shared with law enforcement or other government agencies.

➤ Read more

Is the online form secure?

The Census Bureau follows industry best practices and federal requirements to protect your data. The security of Census Bureau systems is a priority and their IT infrastructure is designed to defend against and contain cyberthreats.

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Will Census Takers come to my neighborhood?

You may notice Census Takers in your neighborhood. This is a normal part of conducting the Census. These Census Takers are there to help, and they are legally bound to protect your information.

If you have not responded online, by phone, or by mail, the Census Bureau will send Census Takers to visit in person to help make sure you are counted.

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How do I recognize a Census Worker?

If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census Workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.

If you have questions about a Census Worker's identity, contact 800-923-8282 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.

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What about confidentiality?

Your responses are safe.

By law, responses to the 2020 Census will never be shared with other government agencies, law enforcement, or landlords. It is also an oath every Census Bureau employee must swear to uphold.

Click here to watch a video about how census data is private, protected by law, and stored securely.

What if I am suspicious about something?

If you have a question about something or see false information about the 2020 Census or the U.S. Census Bureau, email [email protected].
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The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to making the 2020 Census quick, easy, and safe for all participants. If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.
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