Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL 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:

  • Representation in Congress. The Census is used to determine the number of representatives each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Texas currently has 36 representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives and may gain up to three additional seats following the 2020 Census.
  • Redistricting. Once complete, each state will use data from the Census to redraw the boundaries of congressional districts so that each district includes roughly the same number of people. The data is also often used to redraw the boundaries for state and local governments. For example, the City of Plano used 2010 Census data to redraw City Council boundaries and is likely to review the boundaries again following the 2020 Census.
  • Distribution of Federal Funds. More than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed to the states based upon Census data. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Plano stands to lose about $1,500 per person, per year in federal funding for every person not counted in the 2020 Census.
  • Planning for Transportation, Infrastructure and Social Services. Census data is used by federal, state and local governments to plan for new roads, transportation improvements, schools, emergency services and much more.
  • Ensuring Equal Opportunity.  Data about sex, age, race and ethnicity is used to help governments and communities enforce anti-discrimination laws, regulations and policies. Examples include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Public Health Service Act, the Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
  • Understanding Change. Census data helps us understand, forecast and locate change in population growth and demographics in our communities. For instance, Plano has experienced a rapid growth in the number of older adult residents who were born in another country since 1990. Understanding these types of changes and where they are happening is critical to providing essential City services to meet the community's needs.

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):

  • Number of people living or staying in the household on April 1, 2020. (excludes anyone living away at college, in the Armed Forces, or anyone in a nursing home, jail, prison or detention facility)
  • Tenure (Do you own, have a mortgage or rent the residence?)
  • Telephone Number

For All Persons:

  • Name
  • Age and Date of Birth
  • Hispanic Origin
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Relationship to Person 1 (Head of Household)

Click HERE to view a sample 2020 Census form.

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.

Click here for more information.

When will I receive my Census form?

On or between:
You'll receive:
March 12-20, 2020An invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census.
March 16-24, 2020A reminder letter.

If you haven't responded yet:
March 26-April 3, 2020A reminder postcard.
April 8-16, 2020A reminder letter and paper questionnaire.
April 20-27, 2020A final reminder postcard.

If you still haven't responded yet:
May 2020The Census Bureau will follow up in person.

See the 2020 Census fact sheet for more information.

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:

  • All children who live in your home, including grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the children of friends.
  • Children who split their time between homes, if they are living with you on April 1, 2020.
  • Newborn babies, even those who are born on April 1, 2020, or who are still in the hospital on this date.

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.

  • If they move into their new residence on April 1, 2020, they should count themselves at that residence.
  • If they move out of their old residence on April 1, 2020, but have not yet moved into their new home, they should count themselves at their old residence.

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.

Students

  • Boarding school students below the college level should be counted at the home of their parents or guardians. 
  • College students who are living at home should be counted at their home address. 
  • College students who live away from home should count themselves at the on- or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are home on April 1, 2020.
  • U.S. college students who are living and attending college outside the United States are not counted in the census.
  • Foreign students living and attending college in the United States should be counted at the on- or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time.

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. 

  • The U.S Census Bureau will ensure that military personnel who live in places such as barracks or military campgrounds are all counted, in much the same way that the Census Bureau counts others living in group quarters, such as students in university housing.
  • Military personnel who are temporarily deployed overseas should be counted at their usual home address in the United States.

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:

  • Correctional residential facilities.
  • Federal detention centers.
  • Federal and state prisons.
  • Local jails and other municipal confinement facilities.

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:

  • People with no usual home.
  • People in psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric units for long-term, non-acute care.
  • People in nursing facilities.