Your 2020 Census Timeline

Understand The Census


Census 101

Most of us should have received an invitation to respond and reminders starting in mid-March. With the information provided in the invitation to self-respond, a reminder, or even a mailed paper questionnaire form, you can now self-respond until October 31 at

Most Americans will receive an official Census questionnaire in the mail. You can fill out and mail back the form you receive in the mail, or you can follow the instructions provided on your form to respond online or by phone. Learn more about how to verify an official Census mailing, survey or other contact.

When answering the Census Questionnaire, you may find these guides from the U.S. Census Bureau very helpful. They are available in over 60 languages.

  • EVERYONE needs to be counted.
  • This includes every child, from newborns (born before April 1) to pre-school age children to children who only live with you most of the time.
  • You should also count anyone who is living with you most of the time even on a temporary basis on April 1.

Chances are that if you complete the Census as soon as you receive it, you will not be visited by a Census Taker. Census Takers will not start to go door-to-door until May. Here is more information on recognizing and verifying that someone is with the U.S. Census: Census Takers in Your Neighborhood

Group Quarters Enumeration

When responding to the 2020 Census, college students should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time as of April 1, 2020. For most students, that means in their college town, not back home with their parents. Here is Census guidance on counting college students: From the U.S. Census Bureau

Parents or guardians should only include children in college who live with them full time during the school year.They should not list college students studying or living abroad on April 1.

College towns rely on having the numbers of residents accurately reflect the ever-changing face of their communities.

The Census sets aside three days (March 30-April 1) to count individuals in shelters, at soup kitchens, in encampments, or experiencing other forms of homelessness.

Individuals in senior or assisted living are also counted as part of a special effort to count group living settings.

Confidentiality, Security, Impact

Watch this Video: 2020 Census PSA: How Will 2020 Census Data be Used?

Also, it’s important that you know that 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.

Yes! The Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information we collect and keep it strictly confidential. The Census Bureau can only use your answers to produce statistics. In fact, every Census Bureau employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Your answers cannot be used for law enforcement purposes or to determine your personal eligibility for government benefits.

An accurate Census count, and individuals being counted in their primary community of residence, are hugely important for accurate:

  • Data – Businesses rely on Census data to make decisions that will bring amenities or jobs to your community.
  • Dollars – Federal funding in our communities toward schools, transportation, education, public health, and infrastructure is also highly driven by Census data.
  • Districting – Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives is also determined by Census data, helping to ensure fair representation.
Have Your Own Self-Response Plan

What’s your plan?

  • First: Where are you counted?

    Not everyone’s living situation is the same. If you live rent or own your own place, then  you will answer at the address where you receive the questionnaire. However, if you are living with someone else, away for college, or have other people living at your home, it’s important to know who counts for your household. NEED HELP? Check out: HOUSEHOLD LIVING SCENARIOS: WHO COUNTS WHERE?

  • Second: When will you get the form?

    Starting March 12, households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census. See the timeline for more information.

  • Third: How will you respond?

    Every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.

    You will have three options for responding:

    • Online.
    • By phone.
    • By mail.

    There are nine questions on the form, and you might have questions on how to complete it. Check out these guides from the U.S. Census Bureau that are available in 60 languages and featured on our “responding to the Census” page.

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