Help your community: Take the census

For the first time, you’ll be able to respond to the census online and by phone

Census 2020 invitations are showing up in homes across America.

The Census has been a part of American life ever since the U.S. constitution was drafted. But things have changed quite a bit since the first census in 1790, when U.S. marshals traveled around the new country to count heads. That first census, the entire country numbered 3.9 million people. Today, 4.2 million live in central Puget Sound alone.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the 2020 census.

Is the census mandatory?

Yes. It’s in Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Besides that, it's really important to your community that you take part. Census data helps determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year.

Is it anonymous?

Information collected may be used for statistical purposes only. Census staff can’t release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies, per Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

To support historical research, the National Archives and Records Administration is allowed to release census records after 72 years.

Census staff take a lifetime oath to protect your personal information, and any violation comes with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.

What questions are on the census?

You can preview them all on the census website. There is no citizenship question.

Is it safe to respond online?

The Census Bureau’s IT system has several layers of security, such as encrypting your data and storing it on servers isolated from the internet.

How can I check if someone contacting me about the census is a scammer?

Census staff will never ask for your SSN, money, bank account numbers, or your mother’s maiden name. Read more about steps you can take against potential census scammers.

Will the coronavirus affect the census?

Per the Census Bureau, students living away from home will usually be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to COVID-19. The Census Bureau is also working with nursing homes, prisons and other institutional living facilities to ensure their residents are tallied accurately. People are counted where they live and sleep most of the time.

With the new options for responding to the census, it's never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

Where do I respond to the census online?

Visit to provide your answers. The web page has a prominent Take the Census button. You'll need the code included in your census letter.

You can phone your responses in at 844-330-2020. The website has also phone numbers for over a dozen other languages.

Please stand up and be counted.