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Conducting the Count

An overhead look at a suburban community.


The 2020 Census is a massive undertaking. It requires counting a diverse and growing population in the United States and the five U.S. territories. To do this, the U.S. Census Bureau must:

  • Make an accurate list of every residence in the U.S. and five U.S. territories—including houses, apartments, dormitories, military barracks, and more.
  • Get a member of every residence to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail in March and April of 2020.
  • Follow up with homes that have not responded.


Monitoring COVID-19

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted 2020 Census operations to protect the health and safety of our employees and the public, and to ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities based on guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities.

Collecting Responses

There are three ways that the Census Bureau will initially collect responses from people for the 2020 Census: online, by phone, and by mail.

Between March 12-20, you will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home.

Starting in May 2020, the Census Bureau will begin following up with homes that have not responded to the census.

The 2020 Census is for everyone. 



Counting Everyone in the Right Place

To ensure a complete and accurate count, the Census Bureau counts people at their usual residence, which is the place where they live and sleep most of the time, with a few exceptions. People who do not have a usual residence should be counted where they are on Census Day (April 1, 2020).

The Census Bureau has special processes in place to ensure that everyone in the United States and five U.S. territories is counted. To learn more, please visit the following pages:

If you have questions about how to count yourself, or someone in your family, visit Who to Count.


Response Rates

How many people in your community have already responded to the 2020 Census? Stay up to date with a map of self-response rates from across the United States. 


The 2020 Census begins by counting people in remote Alaskan villages and communities in January to account for travel challenges in the spring months.

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