The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States and the five U.S. territories.
The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. The 2020 Census will be the first time that you will be able to respond to the census online.
2020 Census Guide
The goal of this census is to count every living person in the U.S. once, only once, and in the right place. We need your help to make sure everyone in your community gets counted.
Census data are important.
The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years. The results are used to determine the number of seats each state has in Congress, draw boundaries for voting districts, and determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding is spent in communities each year.
Taking part is your civic duty.
Completing the census is required; it is a way to participate in our democracy and say “I count!” Your information is confidential.
Federal law protects your responses.
Your answers can only be used to produce statistics and cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.
Links to Census Guide:
Your response matters.
Getting a complete and accurate count in 2020 requires everyone's help. And there are many ways for individuals, businesses, community organizations, and others to play a part.
Health clinics. Fire departments. Schools. Even roads and highways. The census can shape many different aspects of your community.
- Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year.
- The results determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.
- It's mandated by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 2: The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
What to Expect in the Mail
By April 1, 2020, 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.
- Most areas of the country are likely to respond online, so most households will receive a letter asking you to go online to complete the census questionnaire
- The U.S. Census Bureau plans on working with the U.S. Postal Service to stagger the delivery of invitations over several days. This will allow the number of users responding online to be spread out, and allow better service for those who need help over the phone.
Letter Invitation and Paper Questionnaire
- Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with their invitation. The invitation will also include information about how to respond online or by phone.
When it’s time to respond, most households will receive an invitation in the mail.
Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone.
Depending on how likely your area is to respond online, you’ll receive either an invitation encouraging you to respond online or an invitation along with a paper questionnaire.
We understand you might miss our initial letter in the mail to:
- If you miss the initial letter in the mail
- It doesn’t matter which initial invitation you receive or how you receive it – the U.S. Census Bureau will follow up in person with all households that do not respond.
Counting every person living in the United States 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
COUNTDOWN TO APRIL 1, 2020 Census Day
Census Day Countdown: