FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The goal of the census is to count every person living in the United States, once, only once and in the right place. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that this population and housing count occur every 10 years. Census data guide how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year.

Yes, you are required by law to respond to the 2020 Census (Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141 and 193). We are conducting the 2020 Census under the authority of Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141, 193 and 221. This collection of information has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The eight-digit OMB approval number is 0607-1006. If this number were not displayed, we could not conduct the census.

Yes. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect your information. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, your data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit your data. All web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy.Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information. Violating the confidentiality of a respondent is a federal crime with serious penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Only authorized individuals have access to the stored data, and the information you provide to the Census Bureau may only be used by a restricted number of authorized individuals who are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of your individual responses. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.For more information about how we protect your information, please visit our website at census.gov and click on “Data Protection and Privacy Policy” at the bottom of the home page. This page also includes information about the collection, storage, and use of these records. Click on “System of Records Notices (SORN)” and look for Privacy Act System of Records Notice COMMERCE/CENSUS-5, Decennial Census Program.

This 2020 Census questionnaire should be completed by the person who owns or rents the living quarters or any other person who is at least 15 years of age with knowledge of the household.

For questions where you must choose a single response from a list, clicking another response will change your answer to that response.If it is a “select all that apply” question, you may click on a selected check box to unselect the box and remove it as one of your answers.

The Census Bureau estimates that completing the questionnaire will take 10 minutes on average.

By law, the Census Bureau can only use your responses to produce statistics.

Yes. For each online questionnaire, we are required to provide an explanation to respondents about the confidentiality of the data and the laws that protect those data (e.g., Title 13, U.S. Code Section 9 (a)).Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, your data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit your data. All web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy, even in the remote chance that your responses are intercepted.More information on this topic can be found on the Data Protection and Privacy Policy webpage (http://www.census.gov/privacy/).

Yes. By law, the Census Bureau can only use your responses to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. The Census Bureau plans to make results of this study available to the general public. Results will be presented in aggregate form and no personally identifiable information will be published.Information quality is an integral part of the pre-dissemination review of the information disseminated by the Census Bureau (fully described in the Census Bureau’s Information Quality Guidelines at https://www.census.gov/about/policies/quality/guidelines.html). Information quality is also integral to the information collection conducted by the Census Bureau and is incorporated into the clearance process by the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Yes, you will be asked to provide information for each household member.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a related but separate program.  The ACS is sent to a random sample of people at irregular intervals, so you could potentially receive it at any time.  The ACS is not the same as the Census.  If you receive the ACS, you will also receive an invitation to complete the Census, and it’s very important you fill out both.

While the Census is short and asks no questions about citizenship or national origin, the ACS is much more detailed.  As with the Census, your responses on the ACS are 100% confidential.

People who live in the same household are expected to fill out the Census form together.  There are two options for households with unrelated people living in them.

First, one person can fill out the small amount of information required, and then coordinate with the other roommates.  The form will have space to provide information for a “Person 2,” “Person 3,” “Person 4,” and so on, as applicable for everyone living in the same household.  The same basic information is requested for each person.

If filling out one form per household is not realistic for you, each roommate may fill out the Census form separately.  However, the unique code provided with the “invitation to respond” will only work once for one person.  Each additional roommate will therefore have to access the form by providing their address to the online form (or whichever response method is chosen).  Additionally, filling out the Census form in this way may cause a Census worker to visit your house to verify that yours is a “roommate situation” and not an error.  As always, your and your roommates’ responses are 100% confidential.

The Census form is intended to be filled out only once per household.  The form will have space for a  “Person 2,” “Person 3,” “Person 4,” and so on, as applicable for each family member.  The same basic information is requested for each person.  Remember, every person living in your household needs to be counted, including the elderly and newborns born on or before April 1, 2020!