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The Census is the count of every person living in the United States as required by the U.S. Constitution. It is conducted once every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau, a division of the Department of Commerce.

The primary function of the census is to count the number of people present in the U.S. at a given time to determine the distribution of funds for public education, public and affordable housing, healthcare, roads and bridges, and more. It is also used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College.

By law, all households in the United States are required to participate in the census.

The 2020 US census will be available by mail, phone, and online. Census Enumerators, also known as Census Takers, will also be going door-to-door to conduct in-person surveys.

Visit the US Census website.

Census Day 2020

Census Day is April 1, 2020. Every home will have received information on how to respond to the 2020 Census by this date. When you respond to the census, you should respond with information about where you live – and the number of people living with you – as of April 1, 2020.

Public Libraries

Every New York City public library branch will be providing assistance in completing the census, once the self-response period begins. Many library branches across the City will have dedicated staff and technology to help New Yorkers complete the 2020 census. To find your public library branch, go to the Libraries page.

The census is for everyone, regardless of residency, immigration, or citizenship status.

Every household is required by law to complete the census. Any person present in the United States on April 1 of a census year must be counted, even if you’re just visiting from another country.

If you are present in New York City on April 1, 2020, you should be included on the census form for the household where you are staying or residing.

Multiple Families Living in the Same Household

Everyone living in your household should be included in the 2020 Census, even if they are not listed on your lease or tenancy agreement. This includes individuals who are living in your home on April 1st, 2020. If there are multiple families living in your household, each family can respond to the 2020 Census separately using the same address.

Under federal law, all personal information collected through the census is kept fully confidential, cannot be shared with anybody – including other federal agencies, law enforcement, and private individuals and entities, like landlords or employers. Information collected through the census cannot be used against you in any way.

Learn about participating in the Census.

The 2020 Census questionnaire will include fewer than 10 simple questions asking for basic information about:

  • How many people are living or staying at your home, including all children. Even if someone is not permanently staying with you or is staying with you only for a short period of time, they should be counted.
  • Whether the home is owned or rented
  • What the phone number for the home is
  • The sex, age, race, and ethnicity of each person in your home
  • The relationship between the people in your home

The 2020 Census does not include a question about citizenship or immigration status.

The census does not ask about whether your apartment or housing is lawful. Any person living at an address in New York City should respond to the census; it does not matter if your apartment or building is lawful.

The 2020 Census questionnaire also will not ask about your:

  • Income
  • Social Security or taxpayer ID number
  • Money or donations
  • Political party affiliation
  • Bank or credit card accounts

Learn about the 2020 Census questions.

A complete and accurate 2020 Census count will ensure that New York City receives its fair share of federal funds for critical programs and services like public education, public housing, roads and bridges, and more – as well as its full representation in Congress and the Electoral College. Census data also shapes important decisions about our communities, from emergency services to healthcare access.

City agencies that conduct or operate programs and services that have census-guided funding include:

  • The Department of Education (schools)
  • Administration for Children’s Services (programs for very young children)
  • Department for the Aging (senior centers)
  • Department of Youth and Community Development (job training and adult education programs)
  • Department of Housing Preservation and Development (affordable housing vouchers, maintenance for buildings)
  • Department of Transportation (maintenance and construction of roads, bridges, and highways)
  • New York City Public Housing Authority (money for maintenance and repairs)

Visit the NYC Census 2020 website.

You can complete the 2020 Census online, by phone, in person, or by mail. 

The U.S. Census Bureau will accept online and over-the-phone responses in 12 non-English languages, in addition to the traditional paper form. 

In NYC, most households will receive instructions to complete the census online. Some households will receive the traditional paper form to mail in. 

March 12: The online self-response and telephone assistance numbers will go live. 

March 12 – mid-May: Every household in the United States will begin receiving letters from the U.S. Census Bureau about how to fill out the census either online or with traditional paper forms. Information about language services will also be included. Households have several weeks to complete the Census before “non-response follow up” begins.

mid-May – August: the U.S. Census Bureau enumerators (also known as Census Takers or Door Knockers) will begin to go door-to-door across New York City to conduct “non-response follow-up” to try to collect information in person. You can respond online or over the phone during the non-response follow-up period. If you receive a traditional paper questionnaire, you can choose instead to respond to the Census online or over the phone

Learn about the 2020 Census timeline.

NOTE: All US Census Bureau enumerators/Census Takers/door-knockers will 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 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

  • Agency: United States Department of Commerce
  • Division: United States Census Bureau
  • Phone Number: (800) 923-8282
  • Business Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

The online self-response Census questionnaire will be translated into twelve languages:  Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic,Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.

Census assistance over the phone will also be available in Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic,Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese. Each language will have a separate phone number that will be included in the initial mailing that households receive starting March 12, 2020.

The Census paper questionnaire will only be available in English and Spanish.

The Census Bureau will also provide video language guides and language glossaries in a total of 59 languages. Instructions for how to access these language guides and glossaries will be included in the initial mailing that households receive starting March 12, 2020.

Learn about Census language support.

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

  • 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 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

The Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. 

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

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

If you suspect fraud, you can call to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

Learn about avoiding Census scams or fraud.

  • Agency: United States Department of Commerce
  • Division: United States Census Bureau
  • Phone Number: (800) 923-8282
  • Business Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

All data collected by the census is protected by federal law under Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

These protections ensure that all personal information collected through the census is kept fully confidential, cannot be shared with anybody – including other federal agencies, law enforcement, and private individuals and entities – and cannot be used against you in any way. The penalties for breaking this law include up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Information provided through the census is only used to produce statistics and is kept completely anonymous. This means that the Census Bureau is not allowed to release your information in any way that could identify you or a member of your household.

The 2020 Census does not ask about citizenship or immigration status.

The 2020 Census questionnaire will not ask about your:

  • Income
  • Social security or taxpayer ID number
  • Money or donations
  • Political party affiliation
  • Bank or credit card accounts

The census does not ask about whether your apartment or housing is lawful. Any person living at an address in New York City should respond to the census; it does not matter if your apartment or building is lawful.

Learn about privacy and security around the 2020 Census.

In addition to the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau administers the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is different and separate 2020 Census.

The ACS is:

  • Ongoing
  • Conducted every year
  • Only offered to select households
  • A longer questionnaire

If your household was selected for the ACS, you should complete it in addition to the 2020 Census. Your responses to both forms are protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, which ensures that personal information collected by the Census Bureau is kept fully confidential, cannot be shared with anybody – including other federal agencies, law enforcement, and private individuals and entities – and cannot be used against you. The penalties for breaking this law include up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Learn about the American Community Survey.