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Frequently Ask Questions about the Census

We want to make sure you have answers to all of your questions about the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau has provided the following frequently asked questions and answers:

When can I complete the census? 

Households will receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12-20. There are additional reminders to respond that will be mailed throughout the month. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail. If a household does not respond to the 2020 Census, a census taker will follow up in person to collect their response. This will occur between May-July.

Why does the census ask about April 1?

Everyone is asked about their information as of the same day, April 1, 2020.

What questions does the 2020 Census ask?

The 2020 Census asks how many people are living or staying at each address. For each person, we ask about name, sex, age, date of birth, relationship, Hispanic origin, and race. We also will ask whether the housing unit, such as the house, apartment, or mobile home, is owned or rented, and for contact information in case additional information is needed.

How are the American Community Survey (ACS) and 2020 Census different?

The 2020 Census counts each person in the U.S., where they live on April 1. The decennial census happens every ten years ending in zero. Unlike the decennial census, the American Community Survey is an ongoing survey that only collects information from selected addresses. The American Community Survey asks questions that are not on the census. This includes education, employment, and transportation, and provides communities with up-to-date data every year.

Should I complete both the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey?

Yes. Please respond to both the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey. For help with the American Community Survey, call 800-354-7271 or visit

How is census data used?

By law, the U.S. Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics. 2020 Census results will help in directing billions of dollars in federal funds to communities for schools, roads, and other public services. Results from the 2020 Census will also help to determine the number of seats that each state has in Congress.

What happens to my responses?

We take our responsibility to protect your information very seriously. The Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015 ensures that your data is protected from cybersecurity risks. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. By law, the Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics. If you respond online, all web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy. If you respond using a paper questionnaire, your completed questionnaire will be destroyed after processing.

Will my information be disclosed to other agencies?

No. Your information is completely confidential and protected by law and cannot be shared with any other government agencies, including law enforcement or immigration officials. Federal law (U.S. Code Title 13, Section 9) protects your privacy and keeps your answers safe and secure. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics.

Will the census form be available in different languages?

Yes. You can respond online in English and in 12 additional languages: Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese. The online questionnaire conforms with the latest web accessibility guidelines. There will also be a video in American Sign Language to guide you through responding online. We’ll also make help available by phone in those same languages. You can respond by phone in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese. The paper form can be completed in English or Spanish.

How do I know whether someone works for the U.S. Census Bureau?

All Census Bureau workers carry official government badges and should identify themselves immediately when they come to your home. There is useful information here to help respondents better understand what census takers ask and don't ask for when conducting their work. You can also call your local regional office for verification. Find regional offices' phone numbers here.

Is the census legal?

Yes. Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. constitution requires that this population and housing count occur every 10 years. We are conducting the 2020 Census under the authority of U.S. Code Title 13, sections 141, 193, and 221. This collection of information has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

Why did I see an ad for the 2020 Census?

To increase awareness and educate the public about the importance of the census, the Census Bureau is advertising across television, radio, print, digital, and other channels. This advertising is used to encourage people to respond to the 2020 Census in a cost-effective way.

I saw an advertisement, social media post, website, email, etc. from an organization claiming to be with the Census. Is it legitimate? 

There are many organizations that help the Census Bureau spread awareness about the importance of responding to the 2020 Census. You can find a list of our national partners here.

What is redistricting?

The 2020 Census asks questions that collect information necessary for redistricting. Redistricting is the redrawing of boundaries for the areas that are used to determine where people elect their representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislature, county or city council, school board, and so forth. Law (Public Law 94-171) requires that the redistricting data be delivered to state officials within one year of Census Day or no later than April 1, 2021.

What is apportionment?

Apportionment is the process of determining the number of representatives in Congress. Each state's representation in the U. S. House of Representatives is based on the decennial census. The U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2) established that the apportionment of the House of Representatives would be determined using a national census once every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau must deliver the apportionment results to the President and Congress by December 31, 2020.

Is this a scam?

No. The 2020 Census is happening now, and we are contacting people across the nation by phone, by mail, and in person. Learn more about how to avoid scams online or in-person.

**All FAQs and answers were provided by the Census Bureau here