Census FAQ

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Map of U.S.What is the census?

The census is a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories. It happens every 10 years.

The 2020 Census is underway and more households across America are responding every day. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau is adjusting 2020 Census operations in order to:

  • Protect the health and safety of the American public and Census Bureau employees.
  • Implement guidance from Federal, State, and local authorities regarding COVID-19.
  • Ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities. 

Online, phone and mailed self-responses will continue throughout the data collection process. In-person activities, including enumeration, office work (Durham Census Office), and processing activities, will incorporate the most current guidance from authorities to ensure the health and safety of staff and the public. The updated deadline for the 2020 Census is October 31, 2020.

What’s in it for me?

  • Your responses inform where over $675 billion is distributed each year to communities nationwide for clinics, schools, roads, and more.
  • Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about building community centers, opening businesses, and planning for the future.
  • Responding also fulfills your civic duty because it’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The United States has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
  • Your responses are used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Is my information safe?

Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the FBI, not by the CIA, not by the DHS, and not by ICE.

When can I respond to the census?

In early 2020, every household in America will receive a notice to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that have yet to respond. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020 Census operational plan has been adjusted. Under the plan, field activities would resume after June 1, 2020, as Area Census Offices begin returning to full staff capacity. In-person activities, including enumeration, office work, and processing activities, will incorporate the most current guidance from authorities to ensure the health and safety of staff and the public.

What will I be asked?

You will be asked a few simple questions, like age, sex, and the number of people who live in your home, including children.

What won’t be asked?

The census will never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties. You will also not be asked about you or your family's citizenship status.