Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Census?
The Census is a count of every resident in the United States and has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. Required by Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution, the primary purpose of the Census is to determine the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The 2020 Census counts all persons living in the United States on April 1, 2020. It uses a questionnaire sent to all residences in the U.S. with questions about the number of people living in each residence in addition to some general demographic and household information (age, sex, race, relationship, tenure, etc.).
How is the Census used?
The Census is used in a variety of ways, but major examples include:
NOTE: Census data is only used for statistical purposes and is never used to identify individuals.
What questions will be asked on the Census form?
The 2020 Census form is mailed to all residential addresses in the country. The "head of household" (Person 1) for each address should complete the form for all residents who live in that household as of April 1, 2020. This includes spouses, children, parents/grandparents, roommates and any other unrelated persons living in the household.
For the Head of Household (Person 1):
For All Persons:
WARNING: The 2020 Census form will only include the questions listed in the sample form above. If you receive a form asking for any additional information, such as bank account or credit card information, contact the U.S. Census Bureau immediately.
Note: Some households may receive both a 2020 Census form and an American Community Survey (ACS) in the same year. The ACS includes additional questions about income, occupation, housing value and more. See "Did the Census Bureau send me two Census forms?" below.
Why does the Census Bureau want to know the answers to these questions?
In addition to providing a basic count of all persons living in the United States, the Census is used to determine demographic and household information about the U.S. population. This information, along with more detail information included in the American Community Survey, is used by public, private and nonprofit agencies to provide programs, projects and services that we rely on in our everyday lives. See the Ways the Census is Used page for more information.
What happens to my information after I complete the Census form? How is it secured?
After the Census Bureau receives your form, your responses are combined with all other households in your Census "block." Several blocks of data are then combined into "block groups" and ultimately "tracts." When Census data is released to the public (starting in 2021), the smallest areas of data available will be at the block group level. No individual forms, including address and contact information, will be made available to the public.
Once the 2020 Census is complete, individual Census forms are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration where they are kept confidential and secure for 72 years. After that time, they become available to the public. For example, the last release of individual Census responses were from the 1940 Census on April 2, 2012. Records from the 1950 Census will be released April 1, 2022. Individual forms from the 2020 Census are not released until April 1, 2092.
When will I receive my Census form?
Can I complete my Census form online?
Yes! The 2020 Census will be the first Census to be completed online. You may also respond by mail or by phone. If you or someone you know does not have a computer, the City of Plano Public Library locations have computers available to complete your form.
WHO IS COUNTED?
Who is Counted as Part of 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.
Counting Young Children
It is important to remember to count any children who are living with you. This includes:
Babies Who Are Born on Census Day
Babies born on or before April 1, 2020, should be counted at the home where they will live or sleep most of the time, even if they are still in the hospital. Babies born after April 1, 2020, should not be counted in the 2020 Census.
People Who Die on Census Day
People who are alive for any part of the day on April 1, 2020, should be counted in the census. People who die before April 1, 2020, should not be included.
People Who Move on Census Day
People who are moving should be sure to count themselves just once, in one home.
Visitors on Census Day
Whether to count a visitor depends on the type of visitor. Visitors who are in your home on April 1, 2020, but who will return to their usual residence, should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. Citizens of foreign countries who are visiting the United States on vacation or business on April 1, 2020, should not be counted.
Foreign Citizens in the United States
Citizens of foreign countries who are living in the United States, including members of the diplomatic community, should be counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of time.
Citizens of foreign countries who are visiting the United States on vacation or business on April 1, 2020, should not be counted.
U.S. Military Personnel
People who live in housing units at military installations will be able to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail—just like those who live outside military installations.
People in Shelters
People who are living in emergency and transitional shelters that provide sleeping facilities for people experiencing homelessness should be counted at the shelter.
People in Prisons and Correctional Facilities
People who are living in any of the following on April 1, 2020, should be counted at the facility:
People in Health Care Facilities
The following patients should be counted at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time, rather than at the facility:
The following patients should be counted at the health care facility in which they're staying on April 1, 2020: