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How the 2020 Census invites everyone to respond

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Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone.

Nearly every household will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census from either a postal worker or a census worker.

95% of households will receive their census invitation in the mail.

Almost 5% of households will receive their census invitation when a census taker drops it off.  In these areas, the majority of households may not receive mail at their home’s physical location (like households that use PO boxes or areas recently affected by natural disasters).

Less than 1% of households will be counted in person by a census taker, instead of being invited to respond on their own.  We do this in very remote areas like parts of northern Maine, remote Alaska, and in select American Indian areas that ask to be counted in person.

Note:  We have special procedures to count people who don’t live in households, such as students living in university housing or people experiencing homelessness.

What to expect in the mail

When it’s time to respond, most households will receive an invitation in the mail.

Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone.

Depending on how likely your area is to respond online, you’ll receive either an invitation encouraging you to respond online or an invitation along with a paper questionnaire.

Letter invitation

Most area of the country are likely to respond online, so most households will receive a letter asking you to go online to complete the census questionnaire.

We plan on working with the U.S. Postal Service to stagger the delivery of these invitations over several days.  This way we can spread out the number of users responding online, and we’ll be able to serve you better if you need help over the phone.

Letter Invitation and paper questionnaire

Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with their invitation. The invitation will also include information about how to respond online or by phone.

What we will send in the mail

On or between March 12 – 20, you’ll receive an invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census. (Some households will also receive a paper questionnaire.

On or between March 16 – 24, you’ll receive a reminder letter.

If you haven’t responded yet

On or between March 26 – April 3, you’ll receive a reminder postcard.

On or between April 8 – 16, you’ll receive a reminder letter and paper questionnaire.

On or between April 20 – 27, you’ll receive a final reminder postcard before we follow up in person.

We understand you might miss our initial letter in the mail

Every household that hasn’t already responded will receive reminders and will eventually receive a paper questionnaire.

It doesn’t matter which initial invitation you get or how you get it – we will follow up in person with all households that don’t respond.

To download the PDF "How the 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond", click here.

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