How to Respond to the 2020 Census

How to Respond to the 2020 Census

Ways to Respond

Ways to Respond

If you live in the United States, you are required by law to complete the 2020 Census.

By April 1, 2020, every home should have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You have three options for responding:

  • Online using your computer, smartphone, or tablet​
  • By phone
  • By mail

If you did not receive an invitation to respond from the Census Bureau, or you misplaced your invitation, you can respond online; or contact the Census Bureau.

Questions Asked

The 2020 Census is easy. You will answer a simple questionnaire about yourself and everyone who is living in your home at this time.

The U.S. Census Bureau website shows the questions you’ll be asked, provides tips for responding to each one, and information on how the Census Bureau will use your answers.

Explore the Census Form and questions.

The Census Will Never Ask Certain Questions

During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask you for: your Social Security number; money or donations; anything on behalf of a political party; your bank or credit card account numbers. Additionally, there is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it's a scam, and you should not cooperate. For more information, visit Avoiding Fraud and Scams on the Census Bureau website.

Who To Count

The 2020 Census will count everyone living in the United States and five U.S. territories.

If you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is living there. This includes any friends or family members who are living and sleeping there most of the time. If someone is staying in your home and has no usual home elsewhere, you should count them in your response to the 2020 Census. Please also be sure to count roommates, young children, newborns and anyone who is renting a space in your home. These people are often missed in the census. This means they can miss out on resources for themselves and their communities over the next 10 years.

For special circumstances, such as babies born on Census Day, people who move on Census Day, foreign citizens in the United States, or people in prisons, among other situations, please visit the Census Bureau website for more information.

Counting People in Group Living Arrangements

If you are living or staying in a group living arrangement, also known as group quarters, the Census Bureau has a special process for counting you.

Group quarters are places where people live or stay in a group living arrangement. These places are owned or managed by an entity or organization that provides residents with housing and/or services.

Some examples of group quarters include:

  • College/university student housing (i.e., dorms, residence halls, etc.)
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Group homes
  • Military barracks
  • Correctional facilities
  • Maritime and military vessels

If you live or stay in group quarters, the Census Bureau will identify a group quarters administrator at your location to ensure that you are counted in the 2020 Census.

For more information on counting people in group living arrangements and people who may be experiencing homelessness, please visit the Census Bureau website.

Promote the Count

Promote the Count

Community leaders can serve as trusted messengers to targeted groups to encourage their participation. Organizations can raise the visibility of the census through community and media events, promotion and publicity, direct communication to membership and volunteers, and social media.

The 2020 Census will rely more than ever before on computer-based surveys for the count instead of paper forms, as it has in the past. This new approach will be a challenge for people who have limited access to computers, digital devices, and broadband internet service. In addition, people with limited proficiency in English may need assistance from translation services. Community centers and libraries can provide access to technology, including skilled volunteers, and language interpreters to help achieve a full count.

Resources & Technical Assistance

Resources & Technical Assistance

Here are resources and informational handouts from the U.S. Census Bureau to provide guidance on this incredibly important process.

Census 101: What You Need To Know

The 2020 Census and Confidentiality

How the 2020 Census Will Invite Everyone To Respond

2020 Census Job Opportunities

Technical Assistance

New York State is working with the U.S. Census Bureau and other partners to make available technical assistance for local communities, including:

  • Cornell University’s Program on Applied Demographics is supporting New York’s 2020 Census efforts by providing tools and training, and technical support to local governments. Cornell has created the New York Block Browser LUCA Evaluation System (NYBBLES) to help compare Census Block data to local address data sources.
  • The New York State Data Center technical assistance website offers resources for local governments, including answers to frequently asked questions.
  • A regularly updated list of upcoming training sessions and webinars can also be found on the New York State Council on Children and Families. Past Webinars are recorded for viewing at any time.
  • The 2020 Census Hard to Count Map - a joint collaboration between the CUNY Mapping Service at CUNY’s Graduate Center and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights - and the Census Bureau’s Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM) are two map-based products that can help you learn more about the characteristics of your community. You can use these maps to identify census tracts in your community that have higher proportions of hard-to-count population. These maps use slightly different data sources, so note that information between the two is not directly comparable.
  • George Washington University’s Counting for Dollars study describes the relationship between an accurate census count and New York’s federal funding – these numbers can help you and your stakeholders understand the impact that their omission from the count could have on their community’s funding.
  • The National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund has begun a Get-Out-the-Count SMS Campaign. You, or your organization’s stakeholders, can text “CENSUS” to 97779 to receive text message updates from the NALEO Education Fund about the 2020 Census.
  • The Census Bureau also provides updates about its surveys through either text or email, register here.