The Census Counts Everyone Living in the United States

Shape Your Future. Start Here.

What is the U.S. Census?

Since 1790, every 10 years, we count everyone who lives in the country, as required by the U.S. Constitution. We collect basic information, such as age, sex, and race, for every person in every household. Starting in the spring of 2020, everyone will be asked to complete the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.

Why is the 2020 Census important for you?

The 2020 Census is much more than just a head count. It also gives you an opportunity to shape the future for yourself, your family, and your community. Data collected through the census:

1) Provides a picture of our nation and its communities and helps determine where to build new schools, hospitals, and businesses.

2) Informs the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funding to states and communities each year for programs that support education, housing, health facilities, transportation, emergency services, food assistance, and more.

3) Determines how many representatives each state will have in Congress.

Census responses also help your community in other ways. For example, the information can be used to help protect civil rights laws and determine when services should be provided in other languages. The information can also attract businesses that cater to communities with diverse populations. It can help employers better understand the local talent pool and provide new job opportunities.

Who is counted in the 2020 Census?

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States on April 1—no matter where they are from, why they are here in the United States, and whether or not they are documented. This includes temporary workers, international students, and workers on assignment from overseas.

Will my information be kept safe?

Yes. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect the privacy and confidentiality of everyone who responds to the census. These protections ensure the personal information you provide cannot be used against you in any way.

The Census Bureau combines your responses with other responses to produce statistical summaries. It is against the law for the Census Bureau to disclose or publish any identifiable information about an individual or household. The penalty for violating this law is severe: a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.

By law, your personal information cannot be used against you or against anyone else by any government agency or court—and it can’t be accessed by the police department, DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA.

The Census Bureau encrypts all responses submitted online and stored in its computers.


The schedule for the 2020 census includes the following milestones in 2020.

  • March 12-24: Mailings inviting people to complete the online census questionnaire
  • March 26-April 3: Reminder postcard mailed
  •  April 8-16: Reminder letter and paper questionnaire mailed
  •  April 20-27: Final reminder postcard mailed
  • May-late July: Census takers knock on doors of households who have not responded to collect information in person.
Shape your future by completing the 2020 Census.

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