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The 2020 Census is right around the corner, as the official count takes place on April 1st! As important as this count is, you might have some questions about how it works, what information they need, and how long it will take. Keep reading for answers to those questions are more!

What is the Census and why is it important?

The census is a count of all persons living in the United States that is conducted every ten years by the federal government and is required by the U.S. Constitution.

Data from the census is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives, how federal and state legislative districts are redrawn, and the state and local appropriation of federally funded programs.

What kinds of questions will I be asked?

You’ll be asked questions like:

  • How many people are living/staying in your home as of April 1, 2020?
  • Is your home owned or rented?
  • Please explain the following for each member of your household
    • Sex
    • Age
    • Race
    • Ethnicity
    • Relationship to other household members

You will NOT be asked questions that deal with your personal banking information, security information, political affiliation, or citizenship status.

Who should be counted?

All residents living at an address as of April 1, 2020, should be counted. This includes all children from birth and older living at an address, grandparents, family members and other, non-relatives living at the address.

College students living in a dormitory on April 1, 2020, will be counted at their dormitory. People living in prisons, people living in shelters, people in the military, or people living in other group quarters will be counted where they live. College students living in off-campus housing should be counted at the off-campus housing if that is where they living most of the time.

Are my responses safe?

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information they collect and keep it strictly confidential. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. You are kept anonymous: The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home.

How can I respond?

For the first time, you can choose to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. Please note that if you are responding online, you must complete the census in one sitting, as you don’t have the ability to save your progress.

What if I need help responding?

The Census Bureau offers resources in English and 59 other languages to ensure that everyone can respond to the 2020 Census.

What happens if I don’t respond?

A Census worker will ONLY come to your door if you do NOT fill out the Census before May. In May, they will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the census to help ensure everyone is counted. These census takers are there to help, and they are legally bound to protect your information.

However, some Census takers do quality check interviews or deliver paper questionnaires in April. 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 expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.

If you still have questions about their identity, you can contact your Regional Census Center to speak with a Census Bureau representative.