U.S. Census 2020

2020 Logo_Census_ Shape Your Future_Blue_Preferred

It's Easy.

Every household will have the opportunity to be counted in the 2020 Census. You have the option to answer seven simple questions online, by mail, or by phone. Answers are kept strictly confidential and are used for statistical purposes only.

It's Your Civic Duty.

Completing the census is mandatory. It’s a way to participate in our democracy and say “I Count!”

It's Important.

Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of needs including new roads, schools, emergency services, and business recruitment.

Why It Matters

The census is a count of every person who lives in the U.S. and its territories. It has happened every 10 years since 1790. In early 2020, you will be asked to count everyone who lives in your home as of April 1. Responding to the 2020 Census is a chance to shape your future.

Your responses inform where over $675 billion is distributed each year to communities nationwide for clinics, schools, roads, and more.

Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about planning for the future and help in business recruitment.

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

FAQs

1. What is the Decennial Census? 

Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a population count of everyone in the U.S. Data from the census provides the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country to support vital programs - impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy. It is also used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts and accurately determine the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

2. Why is it important to me? 

Responding to the census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and your representation in government. Specifically, data from the 2020 Census is used to:

  • Ensure public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments.
  • Plan new homes and businesses, and improve neighborhoods.
  • Determine how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives.

3. When will I complete the Census? 

Beginning in mid-March, you will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. Once you receive it, you can respond online. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that haven’t responded to the census.

4. How can I respond? 

In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online, but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer. Responding should take less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee.

5. What information will be requested? 

The decennial census will collect basic information about the people living in your household. When completing the census, you should count everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020.

The Census Bureau will NEVER ask for:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Bank or credit card account numbers
  • Money or donations
  • Anything on behalf of a political party

6. Will my information be kept confidential? 

Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. 

The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.

The Census Bureau has a robust cyber security program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.

8. What do the 2020 Census forms look like? 

View a sample census form.

8. Where can I go to learn more? 

2020 Census Website

Census 101: What you need to know [PDF]

Overall Timeline

Counting every person living in the U.S. is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance. Here's a look at some of the key dates along the way:

January–September 2019: The U.S. Census Bureau opens 248 area census offices across the country. These offices support and manage the census takers who work all over the country to conduct the census.

August 2019: Census takers begin visiting areas that have experienced a lot of change and growth to ensure that the Census Bureau's address list is up to date. This is called address canvassing, and it helps to ensure that everyone receives an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.

January 2020: The Census Bureau begins counting the population in remote Alaska.

April 1, 2020: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.

April 2020: Census takers begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.

May 2020: The Census Bureau begins visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to make sure everyone is counted.

December 2020: The Census Bureau delivers apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.

March 31, 2021: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.