Basic FAQs

FAQs About the 2020 Census:

For more information or materials, you can contact your local Census 2020 Partnership Specialist:

(right click to view larger image)

Click here to access updates regarding the 2020 Census.  

When does the 2020 Census start?

The enumeration starts in remote Alaska on January 21, 2020, but most households will receive their census materials by U.S. mail or hand-delivery starting in mid-March. The online and telephone response options will be available starting on March 12, 2020.

What is “Census Day,” and why is it important?

April 1 is “Census Day.” When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020, and include everyone living in your home on that day (including newborns and anyone staying there who does not have a usual home elsewhere). While April 1 is the reference date, people can submit their questionnaire before or after that date.

When is the last day people can respond?

To avoid a home visit from a Census Bureau employee, people should respond before the end of April 2020. The Census Bureau will begin in-person visits in May, although households can still respond online, by phone, or by mail until July 31.

How long does it take to fill out the form?

The Census Bureau estimates that it will take about 10 minutes to complete the census questionnaire, depending on the number of people in the household.

Do people have to respond online?

No, households have the option to respond to the census questionnaire in one of three ways: online, by telephone, or using a paper questionnaire.

In what languages will the online form be available?

The online form will be available in English and 12 non-English languages: Arabic, Chinese [Simplified], French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

In what languages will the paper form be available?

The paper form will be available in English and bilingual English-Spanish. Spanish-only forms will be available in Puerto Rico.

In what languages will telephone assistance be available?

Census Questionnaire Assistance will be available in English and the same 12 non-English languages referenced above, with Mandarin and Cantonese. People will also be able to use their Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) when calling.

What if I need some other language?

The Census Bureau will provide language guides in 59 non-English languages.

Can people respond on a smartphone or tablet?

Yes, the online form will be optimized to allow people to respond on a smartphone or tablet.

Can people respond if they have misplaced or never received the unique ID mailed or hand-delivered to their address?

Yes, people can respond online or by telephone using an option called Non-ID Response, which allows them to complete their census forms without the unique ID, as long as they provide a valid home address.

What happens if I leave some responses blank?

The Census Bureau strongly encourages respondents to answer every question for every person in the household, but will allow submission of incomplete questionnaires. Bureau staff may follow up on incomplete submissions.

Is the online system secure?

Yes, the Census Bureau has taken significant steps to protect online responses. All information entered online is encrypted as soon as the respondent hits “submit.”

Will there be a problem if multiple people respond online from the same location or IP address?

The Census Bureau will only restrict IP addresses as a security precaution. For example, they may block an IP address if its activity appears to pose a security threat. They are anticipating and planning for multiple responses from computers in places like libraries, or generated through other outreach activities, such as block parties.

Can census responses be shared with law enforcement or other government agencies?

No, Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information provided in census responses, including citizenship status. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing personally identifiable information with other government agencies. Census staff take a lifetime oath to protect census responses, with severe penalties for violations. The law prohibits personally identifiable information collected by the Census Bureau from being used against respondents by any government agency or court.

What should people do if they have a question or problem?

People can call Census Questionnaire Assistance toll-free for answers to questions or to provide their household responses by phone. The phone number will be available in early 2020. What happens if a person misses a question? The Census Bureau strongly encourages respondents to answer every question for every person in the household, but will allow submission of incomplete questionnaires. Bureau staff may follow up on incomplete submissions.

How do I identify an official census worker in person or over the phone?

Census workers must present an ID badge that includes their photo, the U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. For more information, see these additional tips from the Census Bureau for identifying census workers. To verify, people can also contact Census Questionnaire Assistance, enter the name into the Census Bureau Staff Search, or contact the Regional Office50 for their state.

How can I access 2020 Census materials (e.g. posters, pens, bookmarks) from my library?

Census Bureau Partnership Specialists can provide 2020 Census materials. Staff can be reached at The Bureau also offers downloadable materials at

How can I invite the Census Bureau to give a presentation at my library?

Contact your Census Bureau Regional Office.

What should people do if they have a question or problem?

The Census Questionnaire Assistance59 phone line will be available with live customer service representatives supporting 13 languages and TDD from March 9 through July 31. Call toll-free 844-330-2020 in English, and see page 17 for other languages. People can also find general answers about the 2020 Census at

For more in-depth responses and additional FAQs please reference the Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census.