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The 2020 Census Is Ready for America to Respond Invitations to Respond Arrive at Households March 12-20

MARCH 11, 2020 — The 2020 Census is getting underway and is ready for America to respond as the first invitations begin to arrive at the nation’s estimated 140 million households March 12-20.  For the first time, nearly everyone will be invited to respond online, by phone or by mail.

“Invitations are arriving in mailboxes across the country, and everyone will receive an invitation to respond through the mail or from a census worker soon,” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said. “We are encouraging everyone to respond once they receive their 2020 Census invitation.”

A sample of the 2020 Census questionnaire is available on 2020census.gov along with more information about when most people will receive their invitations in the mail. The invitation mailings are addressed to “Resident” at the household address and do not include an individual’s name. In areas more likely to respond online, mailings contain information on how to respond online. Households in areas of the country that are less likely to respond via the internet will also receive a paper questionnaire in their first mailing, along with information on how to respond online. All nonresponding households will receive a paper questionnaire after two more reminder mailings.

Along with the invitations, people can expect to find an overview of the census, a description of language assistance in English plus 12 non-English languages and a census ID number linked to their address. About 13 million households across the nation will receive bilingual English/Spanish invitations and questionnaires.  

For a small portion of the country, in areas where mail is generally not delivered to the physical location of residences (e.g., small towns with P.O. box-only delivery), census enumerators will visit households to either hand-deliver invitations and paper questionnaires or to conduct interviews with households to collect their census data. The 2020 Type of Enumeration Area Viewer, an interactive map application, shows how different geographic areas will be invited to respond to the 2020 Census and which areas will not receive an invitation. 

“Responding to the 2020 Census is easy, safe and important, and it’s key to shaping the future of your community,” Dr. Dillingham said. “The 2020 Census will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and influences how hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds are allocated for critical public services like emergency response, schools, hospitals, roads and bridges over the next 10 years.”

The Census Bureau has created an interactive response rates map at 2020census.gov/response-rates so America can keep track of how they’re doing. Beginning on March 20, the map will be updated daily to reflect current response rates from communities around the country. For comparison, the map also displays the final response rate from the 2010 Census.

Key Dates

The Census Bureau launched a public education and outreach campaign to inform the public on how and when to respond. Below is a timeline of Census Bureau mailings inviting households to respond online, by phone or by mail.

  • March 12-20: The U.S. Postal Service will deliver initial invitations to respond online and by phone. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone.
  • March 16-24: Reminder letters will be delivered.
  • March 26-April 3: Reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not responded.
  • April 8-16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be delivered to remaining households that have not responded.
  • April 20-27: Final reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not yet responded.

If a household does not respond to the census, a census taker will follow up in person. In most cases, this will begin in mid-May and conclude in late July. Households can still respond on their own during this period, and if they do, they will be removed from the nonresponse follow-up workload. People are encouraged to answer all questions on the 2020 Census to avoid having a census taker knock at their door.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. Responding to the 2020 Census is easy, safe and important, and it’s key to shaping the future of communities. The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone who lives in the United States as of April 1, 2020 (Census Day). Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs how billions of dollars in public funds are allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers for public services like emergency response, schools, hospitals and bridges over the next 10 years.

For more information about the 2020 Census, visit 2020census.gov.

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