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 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:
Sample Census Form Coming Soon!
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 non-profit 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?
The U.S. Census Bureau begins mailing Census forms in mid-March 2020. You will receive either a paper copy of the form or a postcard with a link to complete the form online. For households that do not respond to the postcard, the Census Bureau follows up by mailing a paper copy of the form. Enumerators are then sent door-to-door beginning in May 2020 to collect forms for any household that did not complete their form online, by mail or over the phone.
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 libraries have computers available to complete your form.
SCENARIO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
When I complete my Census form, do I include people who typically live here but are away on April 1, 2020?
The intent of the Census is to understand how many people live or sleep in a residence, for most of their time, as of April 1, 2020. In addition to sending Census forms to each individual household, forms will also be provided to group facilities such as dormitories, nursing homes and correctional facilities.
Did the Census Bureau send me two Census forms?
Only one 2020 Census form should be mailed to each household. If you received a second form, check to see if one is actually the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is a separate questionnaire mailed by the Census Bureau to 3.5 million households every year, including Census years. If you have received an ACS form and a 2020 Census form, you should complete both. If you have any questions, please contact the U.S. Census Bureau for assistance.
I recently moved or am planning to move. Should I take my form with me?
Census forms are mailed to the "head of household" for all residential addresses in Plano, not to an individual name or any specific person, and will include a unique PIN for that address. If you recently moved or are planning to move, you should complete a Census form for the address where you live on April 1, 2020. Do not complete a Census form for an old address if you did not live at that location on or after April 1, 2020.