Every 10 years, April 1 is Census Day. It's the day you give a tally to the US government of the number of people who reside in your household. But if you didn't submit your census data to the US government on Wednesday, it's not too late. You still have time to fill out the 2020 census questionnaire.
The census is mandatory and part of the US Constitution (Article 1, Section 2). It legally requires the country to accurately count US residents, whether citizens or not. In effect since 1790, the results of the US census help determine federal funding, how many seats in the US House of Representatives your state will receive to represent you and it is used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. The US government maintains that your response is required.
According to the Census Bureau's website, you have until anywhere between May 27 and August 14 before census takers will conduct home interviews for those who haven't responded. It isn't yet clear how the will affect in-person census taking.
You can fill out the short questionnaire online, by phone or through the mail. As of March 31, only 38% of the nation has responded.
If you haven't filled out your 2020 census questionnaire, here's how to do it.
Complete the 2020 Census questionnaire online
This is the easiest way to fill out the form. You'll need your census ID from the document the bureau sent to you in March.
Here's where to locate your census ID on the census document. If you don't have the census document, the bureau can help you recover your census ID here. At the bottom of the login page, tap If you do not have a Census ID, click here and step through the questions.
1. Head to the online census questionnaire.
2. On the Responding Online page, click Respond.
3. On the Welcome to the 2020 Census Page, click Start Questionnaire.
4. On the next page, enter your 12-digital census ID to log in.
5. Complete the dozen or so questions and you're done. Be sure to complete the questionnaire in one sitting because the form doesn't save your responses if you log out before finishing.
Over the phone
If you'd rather answer over the phone, you can call the census at (844) 330-2020 to speak to a census worker to answer the questions. You can also answer census questions in a language other than English. Head to the census language support site to find phone numbers for other languages.
Through the mail
If you received your census questionnaire in the mail, you can fill it out and mail it back to the bureau, using the return envelope that came with the census.
What happens if I don't fill out the census?
Starting around the middle of April, census takers will start to actively find those who haven't filled out the census to make sure they are counted.
From April 16 to June 19, census takers will work with colleges, senior centers, prisons and other large facilities to count everyone who resides there.
From April 29 to May 1, census takers will count those who are experiencing homelessness in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets and at outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
Then from May 27 to August 14, census takers will go to homes that haven't responded to the census.