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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a selection of frequently asked questions related to the 2020 Census. 

The census is a questionnaire (think of it as a survey) that asks nine questions. It counts every living adult and child in the United States. It takes place every 10 years. The next census is in 2020. The census helps our government figure out how much money each state gets for important programs. It also determines each state’s representation in Congress. The goal is to count everyone once, only once and in the right place. Participation is mandatory, as described in Title 13 of the U.S. Code. It is everyone’s civic duty to respond.

The census helps our government figure out how much money each state gets for important programs like schools, roads, bridges, hospitals, health clinics, SNAP, Medicare, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, special education grants, Head Start, Community Development Block Grants, adoption assistance, crime victim assistance, emergency shelter grants, Americorps, Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program, hunter education and safety programs, rural business grants, wildlife grants and so much more. 

In fiscal year 2016, Missouri received more than $16 billion through federal spending programs guided by data derived from the 2010 Census. For every person that is not counted, our state will lose $1,300 in federal dollars every year. That adds up to $13,000 per person over the next 10 years.

The census happens every 10 years. If we aren’t all counted in 2020, Missouri will be shortchanged for the next decade.

As required by the Census Act, the U.S. Census Bureau submitted a list of questions to Congress on March 29, 2018. Based on those questions, the 2020 Census will ask:

  • How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020. 
  • Whether the home is owned or rented. 
  • About the sex of each person in your home. 
  • About the age of each person in your home.
  • About the race of each person in your home. 
  • About whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. 
  • About the relationship of each person in your home.

 

Your personal information is kept confidential. The Census Bureau is bound by federal law to protect your information, and your data is used only for statistical purposes. 

The census will not ask if you are a citizen. You may have heard about this in the news. In the end, this question was not added. The Census Bureau will never ask you for your social security number, money, our bank or credit card information or anything on behalf of a political party.

More information about why the questions are asked.

The 2020 Census will not ask if you are a U.S. citizen. You may have heard about this in the news. In the end, this question was not added.

The goal is to count everyone in the United States, and that includes people who are not legal citizens.

Responding to the census is easy and you have three options to respond: online, by phone or by mail.

You can expect to get a postcard with instructions from the U.S. Census Bureau in early March 2020. At that time, you’ll be able to respond online (my2020census.gov) or by phone (844-330-2020 for English). A reminder postcard will be sent if you don’t respond after the first mailing. On the third reminder, a paper survey will be sent to your address to fill out and send back. 

If you don’t respond online, by phone or by mail, a census worker will visit your home to try to make contact with you to fill out the census for you. If you respond to the census on time, a census worker is less likely to visit your home.

Census day is April 1, 2020. If you’re not sure who to count as part of your household, think about who stayed in your home on April 1. For example, if you share custody of a child, you can decide which household to count the child in, based on where they stayed on April 1.

It is important that every adult and every child in Missouri be counted. This includes children, grandparents or other family members, friends and roommates living in your home.

If you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes anyone who is living and sleeping there most of the time. If someone is staying in your home on April 1, and has no usual home elsewhere, you should count them in your response to the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the country, including non-citizens.

It is important to remember to count any children who are living with you. This includes:

  • All children who live in your home, including foster children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the children of friends (even if they are living with you temporarily).
  • Children who split their time between homes, if they are living with you on April 1, 2020.
  • Newborn babies, even those who are born on April 1, 2020, or who are still in the hospital on this date.

Please visit 2020census.gov for more information about special circumstances, including students, U.S. military personnel, visitors, persons in correctional facilities and more.

It’s important that all college students respond to the census. The Census Bureau counts people at their usual residence, which is the place where they live and sleep most of the time, which brings up questions for how to count college students.

If you are living away from your parents’ home and living off-campus, you should be filling out the census for yourself and anyone living in the same home or apartment. Don’t worry, the information you submit will not be given to your landlord or property manager so if only four people are on the lease but six people live there, we want to make sure all six are counted.

College students who moved back home to their parents’ house as classes moved online in the spring semester should still be counted where they were living prior to COVID-19.

Students who live in dorms are considered to be living in group quarters. The Census Bureau will identify a group quarters administrator at your location to ensure that you are counted in the 2020 Census.

International students who are not United States citizens but are living and attending college in the United States should be counted at the on- or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time.

U.S. college students who are living and attending college outside the United States are not counted in the census.

If you are a parent of a college student, please encourage your student to participate in the census if they live off-campus. You should not claim your student on your census if they are away at college. If they are in college and living at your home, please ensure to count them.

The Census Bureau has special processes in place for counting people who may be experiencing homelessness and who are staying or receiving assistance at service-based locations such as emergency and transitional shelters, soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food van stops and pre-identified non-sheltered outdoor locations.

If you are an administrator for a service-based location, please visit the Service-Based Enumeration page.

If you are living or staying in a group living arrangement, also known as group quarters, on April 1, 2020, the Census Bureau has a special process for counting you.

Group quarters are places where people live or stay in a group living arrangement. These places are owned or managed by an entity or organization that provides residents with housing and/or services.

Some examples of group quarters include:

  • College/university student housing (i.e., dorms, residence halls, etc.)
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Group homes
  • Military barracks
  • Correctional facilities
  • Maritime and military vessels

 

For a full listing of group quarters types, please visit Group Quarters Enumeration on the 2020 Census site. 

If you live or stay in group quarters, the Census Bureau will identify a group quarters administrator at your location to ensure that you are counted in the 2020 Census.

If you are a group quarters administrator looking for important information on the process for counting residents at your facility, please visit the Group Quarters Enumeration on the 2020 Census site. 

The census will be available online and by phone in 13 languages:

  • Arabic 844-416-2020
  • Chinese (Mandarin) 844-391-2020
  • Chinese (Cantonese) 844-398-2020
  • English 844-330-2020
  • French 844-494-2020
  • Haitian Creole 844-477-2020
  • Japanese 844-460-2020
  • Korean 844-392-2020
  • Polish 844-479-2020
  • Portuguese 844-474-2020
  • Russian 844-417-2020
  • Spanish 844-468-2020
  • Tagalog 844-478-2020
  • Vietnamese 844-461-2020

Paper questionnaires, mailings and field enumeration will be available in English and Spanish. Language guides, language glossaries and language identification cards will be available in 60 languages, which can be found at census.gov.

The U.S. Census Bureau is making sure that however you choose to respond – online, by phone or by mail – that the census is accessible. 

The online questionnaire is accessible, following the latest web accessibility guidelines. There will also be a video in American Sign Language available to guide you through responding online.

You can respond by phone in English by TDD at 844-467-2020.

By mid-April, a paper questionnaire will be mailed to every household that hasn’t already responded. The U.S. Census Bureau will have braille and large print guides available online to assist you with completing the paper questionnaire.

U.S. Census Bureau workers will begin visiting homes of people who haven’t already responded online, by phone or by mail. Census takers who can communicate in American Sign Language and additional languages will be available. When the census taker visits to help you respond, you can request that another census taker who communicates in American Sign Language returns. If you prefer, you may also choose to have another member of your household interact with the census taker.

The U.S. Census Bureau will keep your information secure and private. No data or tabulation may be produced that could be used to identify an individual.

It is illegal for the U.S. Census Bureau to share your information with other government agencies or private companies, including law enforcement, immigration officials, tax agencies, landlords, etc.

Individual records may not be released for at least 72 years. These records, when released, are often used for genealogy and family history.

A census worker will never ask for your Social Security number, or information about your bank accounts or credit cards. If you want to make sure the person at your door is really a census worker, check their badge. All census workers have an official U.S. Census Bureau ID badge. The badge should include their name, picture, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. They will also be carrying an official bag with the Census Bureau logo and an official letter explaining why they are visiting.

Census data is used by different entities for different reasons. 

The federal government uses census data to make funding decisions for schools, hospitals, roads and other vital programs.

Businesses use census data to make important decisions. Data can be used to identify locations for new opportunities, from manufacturing plants to restaurants. It can also help you better understand your customer base or potential employees.

Nonprofits use census data to help inform the types of services a community might need.

Students use census data for school projects and research papers.

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to making the 2020 Census quick, easy and safe for all participants. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.

Phishing is a criminal act in which someone tries to get your information by pretending to be an entity that you trust. Phishing emails often direct you to a website that looks real but is fake—and may be infected with malware.

It is important to know that the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. Further, during the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Money or donations.

 

In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party.

If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity.

First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

If you feel there is anything else the Census Bureau needs to know regarding scams, reach out to rumors@census.govcreate new email.

If you don’t complete the census online, by phone or by mail, a Census Bureau worker will visit your home to collect census information.

If you’d like to verify that someone in your neighborhood is an actual census taker, you can use the following information to help you avoid any potential scams.

Census takers will have badges and briefcases indicating their affiliation with the Census Bureau. They may knock on doors and ask a few simple questions to verify the address for inclusion in the census.

Census takers will introduce themselves as a Census Bureau employee, show their official Department of Commerce ID badge, and explain the purpose of the visit. If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.

 The Census Bureau will never ask you for your identification, Social Security number, your bank account information, your credit card numbers, or for money and/or donations during the 2020 Census.

If you suspect someone does not work for the Census Bureau but the are claiming to be affiliated, contact a Census Bureau representative at 800-923-8282 and/or contact the local police.

If you feel there is anything else the Census Bureau needs to know regarding scams, reach out to rumors@census.govcreate new email.

Due to COVID-19, census takers are wearing face coverings, maintaining a social distance of six feet or more and utilizing proper hygiene practices while also conducting interviews outside as much as possible. The Census Bureau asks that household members contacted by census staff maintain social distancing during interviews and follow CDC recommendations. Just as census takers promote safety, patience and kindness toward household respondents, please reciprocate by cooperating with the dedicated census takers whose work is so vital to a complete and accurate count.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted census operations in many ways. From adjusting the timeline to how and when census takers visit homes, many precautions are being taken. The U.S. Census Bureau delayed the deployment of census takers visiting homes and extended the deadline to complete the census. The new deadline is Sept. 30, 2020. 

When visiting homes, census takers are wearing face coverings, maintaining a social distance of six feet or more, utilizing proper hygiene practices and conducting interviews outside as much as possible. 

In addition to normal operations, the U.S. Census Bureau is also contacting folks by phone and email to encourage households to respond. The Census Bureau is also mailing additional paper questionnaires to households that haven’t responded.