How to Take the U.S. Census

Опубликовал Admin
21-11-2020, 23:00
Every 10 years, the U.S. government carries out a census, or a count of every individual living in the U.S. and its territories. The census is required by the U.S. Constitution, and the results affect how you are represented in the government and what kinds of resources are made available to your community. Fortunately, responding to this important questionnaire is easy! In 2020, you’ll be able to respond online, by phone, or through the mail. Once you receive your invitation between March 12 and March 20, gather some basic information about the members of your household. Respond to the census questionnaire by April 1, which is the official census day for 2020.

Responding Online

  1. Choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. If you respond to the census online, you’ll need to do it all in one session. If you try to leave and come back to it later, your data will be lost. Set aside about 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time to answer all the questions.
    • The online questionnaire is available 24/7 during the census period.
  2. Navigate to in your browser. Once you’re ready to start the census, visit in the browser of your choice. You’ll see a welcome screen with some simple instructions for how to begin the questionnaire.
    • You will also see instructions on how to access and complete the online questionnaire in the paper invitation that you receive in the mail.
    • You can use a computer, mobile phone, or tablet to access the census website.
  3. Select your preferred language by clicking the globe icon. The 2020 online census questionnaire is available in 12 different languages. To select the language you want, click the globe in the upper right-hand corner of the page and use the drop-down menu.
    • Alternatively, you can select the language of your choice from the list across the bottom of the page at any time during the questionnaire.
  4. Click the “Start Questionnaire” button. Launch the questionnaire by clicking the blue button on the right side of the page. Remember that you’ll have to complete the whole questionnaire in one session, so don’t hit the button until you’re ready to start.
  5. Enter your 12-digit census ID. After you start the questionnaire, you’ll be prompted to enter your census ID. This number is located on the questionnaire invitation that you will receive in the mail or directly from a census worker. Click the “Login” button after entering the number.
    • Click the link below the login button if you don’t have a census ID. You can provide other identifying information and still take the census even if you didn’t receive your ID.
  6. Confirm your address. The next screen will show your address and ask whether you are completing the 2020 census for that address. Click “Yes” if it’s correct, and “No” if it’s not correct.
    • Indicate whether you’ll be staying at the address provided on April 1 with the “Yes” or “No” buttons.
    • If you answer these questions “Yes,” you will then be prompted to fill out the rest of the questionnaire. Otherwise, follow the instructions for what to do next.
  7. Navigate the questions with the “Next” and “Previous” buttons. Once you fill out a question, look it over to make sure you’ve answered it correctly. If you’re ready to continue to the next question, hit the blue “Next” button at the bottom of the screen. If you think you’ve made a mistake, you can hit the “Previous” button to go back and correct it.
    • Don’t use the forward or back buttons on your browser. Doing this could cause you to lose your data.
    • In some cases, you may get a prompt to review your information or provide additional info when you try to go to the next page. If this happens, look over your answers and make sure you haven’t left anything out or entered something incorrectly.
    • Throughout the questionnaire completion process, you can use underlined blue links that appear on some pages to get additional information about the questions and how to answer them correctly.
  8. Provide your name and phone number. You’ll receive another prompt to enter your full name and your number after you confirm your address. Provide your full name, using English letters, and your 10-digit telephone number, including the area code.
    • The census bureau may use your phone number to contact you if they need additional information.
  9. Give the number of people living in your household. Count everyone who normally lives or stays in your home, including yourself. Enter the number in the box provided, then hit “next.”
    • If you’re not sure who you should count, click the underlined information link above the text box for more details. You can also review information about who to include in your household here:
  10. Enter the full name of each person living in your household. Once you’ve finished entering information for one household member, click the blue button that says “Add Another Person.” Fill out the name of each additional person as prompted until you have listed everyone in your home.
    • You’ll also have the opportunity to add more people after you’ve completed the answers. Select “yes” or “no” when prompted with the question “Will there be any ADDITIONAL people that you did not already list?”
    • If you included someone by mistake, you can delete them from your response. You’ll also be prompted at the end to select anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria for being counted.
  11. Follow the prompts to answer questions about each person. Next, you’ll be requested to answer a series of questions about your household. Be prepared to answer questions аbout:
    • The ownership status of your home (e.g., whether it is owned or rented by someone in the household)
    • The date of birth of each household member
    • The sex of each member of your household
    • The race of each household member and whether they have any Hispanic ancestry
    • The relationship of each person in your home to yourself
  12. Select the “Submit Questionnaire” button when you’re done. Once you’ve completed all the questions, submit your answers by clicking the blue “Submit Questionnaire” button. You’ll see a page with a confirmation number, which you can print out or save to your computer by clicking the green “Save or Print this Screen” button at the bottom of the page.
    • If you think you might have made a mistake, hit the “Edit Questionnaire” button instead. This will allow you to go back and make corrections.
    • If the Census Bureau requires any other information, they may follow up by calling you or sending a census interviewer to your home.

Taking the Census by Phone

  1. Have information about your household ready before you call. For the first time in 2020, you’ll be able to complete the census by phone. Get ready for the call by making a list of the full names of every member of your household plus any other required information, such as their date of birth and racial or ethnic background.
    • If you don’t have this information, ask your household members to provide it before you call.
  2. Find the toll-free number on your census invitation. The number to call will be provided in the paper invitation you receive in the mail. Read the instructions on the paper invitation, then dial the number when you are ready to begin answering questions.
    • The phone number for the 2020 census will be available once invitations are sent out between March 12 and March 20.
  3. Follow the prompts to answer the questions during the call. Once you make the call, follow the instructions to complete the questionnaire. Answer all the questions to the best of your ability.

Mailing in a Paper Form

  1. Fill out a paper questionnaire if you receive one. Since it’s easiest for most people to complete the census questionnaire over the phone or online, not everyone will get a paper questionnaire. If you live in an area where people are more likely to respond by mail, you’ll get a paper questionnaire enclosed with your invitation.
    • Even if you get a paper questionnaire, you don’t have to use it. You’ll still have the option to respond online or by phone.
    • You can view a sample copy of the 2020 Census Questionnaire form online here:
  2. Use a blue or black pen to fill in the boxes next to each question. Don’t use a pencil or another pen color, since this could make it more difficult for your responses to be read correctly. Mark the appropriate boxes with an X or fill in letters or numbers as specified in the instructions for each question.
    • If you need to fill in letters or numbers, print clearly. Put 1 letter inside each box.
  3. Provide complete information about up to 6 people in your household. For up to 6 people in your home, you will be asked to provide information such as the person’s full name, their sex, their date of birth, and their racial and ethnic background. If there are more than 6 people in your home, you’ll be asked to provide partial information (including name, sex, and date of birth) for up to 4 more household members.
    • If there are more than 6 people in your home, the Census Bureau may send an interviewer to your home to collect information about the rest of the people in your household.
  4. Call the toll-free number listed on the questionnaire if you have questions. If you’re not sure about how to answer a question, you can call for information. The toll-free number will be provided at the end of the questionnaire.
    • The information line is available Sunday through Saturday, 7 AM-2 AM ET.
  5. Mail your completed questionnaire in the provided envelope. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, fold it up and place it in the envelope included with your invitation. The postage is pre-paid, so you won’t need to add a stamp. Put it in a mailbox or take it to your nearest post office to mail it to the address printed on the envelope.
    • If the envelope is missing, you can look up the address on the paper census questionnaire form.

Answering Census Questions

  1. Count how many people will be living or staying at your address on April 1. However you choose to respond to the census, you’ll need to gather some basic information before you start. First, take a count of every person who lives or regularly stays in your home, whether or not they’re related to you. Include everyone who will be staying at your address as of April 1 of the census year.
    • Even if someone at your household has more than one address, count them if they usually live or sleep at your address and will be there on April 1.
    • Include babies and children of all ages, including biological, adopted, and step-children. Include babies born on or before April 1, even if they won’t have come home from the hospital yet on that day.
    • You should also include any non-relatives living with you, such as roommates, boarders, or live-in employees.
    • Don’t include household members who aren’t currently living at your residence, such as college students, military personnel, people residing in nursing homes, or prisoners. Don’t count visitors who usually stay somewhere else, even if they’ll be staying at your home on April 1.
  2. Give information about the ownership of the home where you’re staying. The census will include questions about the address where you live. Be prepared to answer whether your home is:
    • Owned by you or someone else in the home with a mortgage or loan
    • Owned by someone in the home free and clear
    • Rented
    • Occupied without rent payment (e.g., if you are living for free in a home owned by someone else who does not live there)
  3. List the names of any people staying at your address. Gather the full names of everyone in your household. This includes their first names, last names, and middle initials.
    • If anyone in your household has a double or hyphenated last name, make sure to include both surnames.
    • If someone in the house rents or owns the home, list them first. This person will be “Person 1” in your responses. Otherwise, choose yourself or whoever you like to be “Person 1.”
  4. Provide the sex and age of each household member. In addition to their full names, the census questionnaire will ask you to list each household member’s sex, date of birth, and age in years as of April 1. Gather this information before you start filling out the questionnaire.
    • Currently, the census lists “Male” and “Female” as the only options for sex. If you are transgender (but have not legally changed your gender), non-binary, or gender non-conforming, select the option that feels most comfortable to you. Your answers will be kept anonymous and the Census Bureau will not cross-reference them.
  5. Answer questions about Hispanic origin and race. The 2020 census will contain questions about the race and ethnicity of each member of your household. If any member of your household is of Spanish, Latino, or Hispanic origin, indicate that this is the case and specify their ethnic background (e.g., Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or other). Then, select whichever race(s) are the best fit for each household member.
    • For some races, you may be asked to further specify the person’s origin. For instance, if you select “Black or African American,” you can then use the text box to specify whether the person is African American, Jamaican, Haitian, or from an African country.
    • The 2020 census will not ask you to specify your country of citizenship. These questions are only intended to reflect your racial and ethnic background.
  6. Select how each person is related to “Person 1”. For each member of the household, you can choose from a list of options that reflect the relationship between the first person listed on the questionnaire and any subsequent household member. Pick the single option that fits best.
    • The options include opposite-sex and same-sex spouses and partners, biological and non-biological children, siblings, parents, grandparents, in-laws, other relatives, roommates, and other non-relatives.
  7. Indicate whether anyone in the household has any other addresses. Aside from Person 1, you’ll be asked to provide any additional information about the living situation of each person in your household. If anyone in your household usually lives or stays somewhere else, indicate this and provide specific information.
    • For example, specify whether they usually live on a college campus, in a nursing home, or at a secondary or seasonal residence. Depending on your answer, that person may not be counted as part of your household for the purposes of the census.


  • Your responses are confidential and are not associated with your name or identity. The U.S. government uses the census to produce statistics about communities around the country.
  • If you don’t respond online, by phone, or by mail, a census taker will visit your home and interview you in person.
  • If you live in a remote area or have other special living circumstances, such as residing in a college dorm, group home, or shelter, a census interviewer may visit you and collect your responses in person. You can review how to respond to the census if any special circumstances apply to you on the 2020 Census website:
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