What Is the 2020 Census?
Why We Conduct This Count
The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many 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.
It’s also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.
Participating in the census is required by law, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community, because the results of the 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation, and more.
How To Respond
The 2020 Census will ask a few simple questions about you and everyone who is or will be living with you on April 1, 2020.
For the first time, you can choose to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. Find out more about each of these methods below:
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. See the questions the census asks here.
If you do not receive an invitation to respond from the Census Bureau, you may respond online or visit our Contact Us page to call our phone line.
Who Should Respond
The 2020 Census counts 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).
One person should respond for each home. That person must be at least 15 years old. They should live in the home or place of residence themselves and know general information about each person living there. (For more information, visit Questions Asked.)
Please note: If you live in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the process for completing the census will be 100% paper-based and led by Census takers. Visit Counting the Island Areas for more information.
Who Should Be Counted and Where?
ou should be counted where you are living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020. If you are responding for your home, count everyone who lives and sleeps there most of the time as of April 1, 2020. This includes young children, foster children, roommates, and any family members or friends who are living with you, even temporarily.
Please note that if someone is staying with you temporarily on April 1 due to the COVID-19 situation, they should be counted where they usually live. This includes college students, who should still be counted at school, even if they are home early because of the COVID-19 situation. If they live in student housing, the college will count them. If they live off campus, they should respond for the off-campus address and include any roommates or other people living there.
If someone is staying with you on April 1 who doesn’t have a usual home elsewhere, please include them in your response.
People in some living situations—including students, service members, and people in health care facilities—may have questions about how to respond or where they should count themselves. You may also have questions if you are moving, have multiple residences, or have no permanent address.
For more information, please visit Who to Count.
You can complete the census online or by phone in 13 different languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.
In addition, bilingual invitations and paper questionnaires in English and Spanish will be sent to select areas of the country.
To help you respond, the Census Bureau also offers webpages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in Braille and large print. Visit Language Support to learn more.
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