For the first time ever, the Census Bureau is offering households across the nation the option to self-respond to the Decennial Census one of three ways: (1) online, (2) by telephone, or (3) by mail.
If you choose not to respond one of these ways, you can respond in person when an enumerator (census taker) comes to your door.
It may take individuals who have a small household or experience using computers as little as ten minutes to complete the Census. It will take individuals with large households and those working on digital literacy skills longer to complete.
Response Option Details:
To fill the Census out online, go to the website address provided by the Census Bureau in the letter that is sent to your house.
Use any internet browser, including Android and Apple smartphone browsers, to access and complete the questionnaire (data rates apply if you use a smartphone). For best results, use the two latest versions of Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Samsung Native.
Complete the online form in English or one of the following 12 languages (you can toggle between languages as you go):
· Haitian Creole
Video instructions are available in English; instructions in other languages, including American Sign Language, are expected to be available soon.
Online responses are encrypted to ensure security. Be sure to complete your response in one session or you will have to start over (session times out when you are inactive for 15 minutes).
A few things to keep in mind:
- Responses submitted to the Census Bureau online are safe from cyber threats. All data are encrypted in transmission. Once the data are received, they are no longer online.
- You are not required to download or print anything.
- Beware of fake sites that may try to steal your information.
- Check the website address; the official address will:
– Start with “https” (look for the “s” which indicates it’s encrypted)
– End in .gov not .com
- Do not engage with maleware or pop-up windows, which might ask for the same information the Census requests.
No internet or computer at home?
Bring the mailer with your unique Census ID code with you.
- Reply by phone (the number to call is mailed to you along with the website address)
- Mail in your response
- Wait for a census taker to come to your door
Phone responses are handled by a live person. To reply to the Census by phone, call the number provided by the Census Bureau in the letter that is sent to your house.
You may respond by phone in English or in one of the following 12 languages; a separate phone number will be available for each language:
· Haitian Creole
If assistive technology or additional assistance is needed, call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 to be connected with the interactive voice response option.
You can also respond in English by Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 844-467-2020.
If you prefer to respond by mail but do not receive a questionnaire by mail in March, you will need to wait for the Census Bureau’s fourth mailing in mid-April, which will include a paper questionnaire.
If you have not responded online or via phone by mid-April, a paper questionnaire will be sent to you.
You cannot request (or print) a paper form; you may only use the one mailed to you.
The paper questionnaire is only available in English and Spanish. However, step-by-step instructions are available in a multitude of languages online to help you fill it out. Braille and large print guides are also available.
If your household has not responded by the end of April, expect to be contacted by a Census Bureau employee in May, June, and/or July. If you don’t answer all of the questions on the Census, it may trigger a visit from an enumerator (census taker).
Enumerators will have with them: Census materials in English and Spanish, instructions on how to respond by phone or online in 12 non-English languages, and a language identification card.
Census takers will visit (or call) up to six times. After the third try, enumerators can ask a nearby reliable “proxy” such as a landlord, neighbor, letter carrier, or utility worker for information about your household. Collecting an in-person response will be the last attempt to count your household. After the final unsuccessful attempt, substitute data based on statistics is used even if it is does not accurately reflect your situation.
If someone shows up at your door to collect a response, verify their identity. Tips on how to do so can be found on the Census Bureau website at How to Identify a Census Employee. New York State residents may also call the New York Regional Census Center at (212) 882-7100 to confirm the identity of the census taker.
During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask for
- Citizenship or immigration status
- Social Security number
- Bank account or credit card numbers
- Your mother’s maiden name
- Money or donations
- Anything on behalf of a political party
Beware of email scams that imitate the Census Bureau. Unless you request to be contacted by email, the Census Bureau will not email you about the 2020 Census. Nor will they text you.
If you suspect fraud, report it to the Census Bureau at 1-800-923-8282.
Additional tips can be found at Avoiding Fraudulent Activity and Scams.
More information on the 2020 Census can be found on our 2020 Census resource page.