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The original item was published from 3/9/2020 12:23:00 PM to 3/30/2020 1:35:44 PM.

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City News Center

Posted on: February 1, 2020

[ARCHIVED] How the 2020 Census will invite you to respond

2020 Logo_Census 2020

Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone.

Nearly every household will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census from either a postal worker or a census worker.

95% of households will receive their census invitation in the mail. Almost 5% of households will receive their census invitation when a census taker drops it off. In these areas, the majority of households may not receive mail at their home’s physical location (like households that use PO boxes or areas recently affected by natural disasters). Less than 1% of households will be counted in person by a census taker, instead of being invited to respond on their own. We do this in very remote areas like parts of northern Maine, remote Alaska, and in select American Indian areas that ask to be counted in person. (This is separate from our follow-up efforts; census takers will visit all households that were invited to respond on their own and haven’t.)

What’s on the 2020 Census Form

There are only 10 questions on the 2020 Census. You will need to answer all 10 questions whether you take the Census online, over the phone or by mail. Remember, your response is confidential, protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code and remain confidential for 72 years. All Census Bureau employees swear a lifetime oath to protect respondent information.The penalty for wrongful disclosure is up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The Census Bureau will never share a respondent’s personal information with other government agencies. Data is only released in summary tables; no individual’s records are released.  

  1. Name
  2. Phone Number
  3. Age of each household member
  4. Sex
  5. Race
  6. Hispanic origin
  7. Relationship to head of household
  8. Household tenure (own/rent)
  9. Number of people in household
  10. Usual place of residence

What to Expect in the Mail

In mid-March, most households will receive an invitation in the mail. Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone. Depending on how likely your area is to respond online, you’ll receive either an invitation encouraging you to respond online or an invitation along with a paper questionnaire.

Letter Invitation

— Most areas of the country are likely to respond online, so most households will receive a letter asking you to go online to complete the census questionnaire (or to respond by phone).

— We plan on working with the U.S. Postal Service to stagger the delivery of these invitations over several days. This way we can spread out the number of users responding

online, and we’ll be able to serve you better if you need help over the phone.

Letter Invitation and Paper Questionnaire

— Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with their invitation. The invitation will also include information about how to respond online or by phone.


March 12-20: You’ll receive an invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census. (Some households will also receive paper questionnaires.)

March 16-24: A reminder letter. If you haven’t responded yet:

March 26-April 3: A reminder postcard.

April 8-16: A reminder letter and paper questionnaire.

April 20-27: A final reminder postcard before we follow up in person.

We understand you might miss our initial letter in the mail.

— Every household that hasn’t already responded will receive reminders and will eventually receive a paper questionnaire.

—  It doesn’t matter which initial invitation you get or how you get it — we will follow up in person with all households that don’t respond.

Helpful Documents

Counting College Students and People in Institutions

Counting Young Children

Sample Invitation Letter

Sample Paper Questionnaire

Why We Ask fact sheet

How the Census Impacts Spring Hill

More information
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