Census 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

What is the census?

Every 10 years, the United States conducts a “census”, or a count, of the entire population.

Who gets counted?

The census counts everyone who lives in the United States, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status. If you live here, you get counted.

Why do we have a census?

The data collected from the census are used to ensure equal political representation and fair allocation of government resources. Census data determine the number of congressional seats each state receives; the distribution of over $700 billion in federal government resources; and the funding and placement of public services and infrastructure.

When is the census?

The U.S. Census Bureau will mail postcards to every household in the United States starting in March 2020. The postcard will request each household to complete the survey by Census Day on April 1, 2020.

How can I complete the census?

You can complete the census online, by telephone, or by mail. This is the first year the census will be available online. You can fill out your survey using any Internet-enabled device (cellphone, computer, tablet, etc.).

Why should I take the census?

It is important to participate in the Census because this is a way to make your voice matter! By filling out the Census you are letting the U.S. government know how many people are living in your city. The government uses this figure to determine how much federal money to give each state and how many representatives can go to Congress. By making yourself count, you are helping improve your community by ensuring your city and state have the appropriate number of representatives and money to provide resources and services for you and your neighbors. It is free, confidential, and safe.

The Questions

What questions am I going to be asked?

The census survey will ask the name, sex, age, date of birth, race/ethnicity, and relationship of everyone in your household. It will also ask if you rent or own your home. For more information on what you will be asked on the census, see the 2020 Census Website.

Will the census ask for my citizenship status?

No, the 2020 census will not ask a question about citizenship. The federal government has now been permanently prevented from asking the citizenship question as part of the 2020 census in any form.

Who should I count in my census response?

You should count anyone who is living and sleeping in your home most of the time. This includes both related family members and unrelated people, such as foster children, friends, tenants or live-in employees. For more information, see the 2020 Census Website.

Are children included in the census?

Yes! It is important to count any children living in your housing unit most of the time. This includes children who split their time between households, newborn babies, and other children who may live with you like grandchildren, the children of friends, or nieces and nephews.

Getting Counted

How do I complete the census?

There are three ways you can fill out the census survey: online, by telephone, or by mail. Households can answer the questions on the internet or by phone in English and 12 other languages.

When should I look for my census invitation in the mail?

Starting in March 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will mail postcards to every household in the United States. You should receive your postcard by April 1, 2020.

How do I access the online survey if I don’t have Internet access at home?

How do I access the online survey if I don’t have Internet access at home? Visit one of our Connect Chicago Locations for digital access: Connect Chicago Internet Access Map.

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When can I go online and fill out the census survey?

You will receive a postcard by April 1, 2020 directing you to fill out the census online. At that time, you can go online to complete the census.

Is there a phone number I can call for help filling out my census?

Yes. You can call the U.S. Census Bureau Call Center: (301) 763-INFO (4636) or (800) 923-8282.

What happens if I don’t respond to the census on time?

If you do not respond to the census by April 2020, you will be mailed a printed questionnaire to return by mail. In May 2020, Census Bureau employees will visit households that have not completed the census to assist you in filling out the census in-person.

Will a census worker come to my residence?

If your household does NOT submit a completed census survey by the end of April 2020, a Census Bureau employee will visit your residence to assist you in filling out the census in-person. This person will ask you the same questions that will appear in the online version of the census. For more information on Census Bureau employees, see the 2020 Census website.

Language Access

Will the census be available in languages other than English?

Yes! The survey will be offered in 13 languages online and by phone, including English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese. The paper census surveys will only be available in English and Spanish.

Safety and Privacy

Is the census confidential?

Yes. Responses to the census are confidential. Census information is used for statistical purposes only.

Can another government agency access my census information?

No. Your responses cannot be used against you by any government agency, including law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Can my census responses affect my eligibility for government benefits?

No. Your responses to the census are confidential and will not affect your eligibility for any government benefits.

Can U.S. Census Bureau workers share my information?

It is illegal for the Census Bureau to share your information. Your information is confidential. U.S. Census Bureau workers who have access to your personal information are sworn for life to protect confidentiality and are subject to a $250,000 fine and/or up to five years in federal prison for the wrongful disclosure of information.

Do I need a Social Security number to complete the census?

No. The census will never ask for a social security number.

Is it safe to submit my personal information to the U.S. Census Bureau online?

Yes! All responses submitted online are encrypted to protect your personal privacy. To learn more about the Census Bureau’s data protection and privacy program, see 2020 Census Website.

Census Jobs

How do I get a job with the U.S. Census Bureau?

There are temporary, part-time, and full-time job opportunities with the U.S. Census Bureau to support the 2020 Census. For more information visit the 2020 Census Website.