The Census is a count of every person living in the United States. The U.S. Constitution requires a count to take place every ten years and the first Census count took place in 1790. The Census Bureau conducts the count by mailing paper forms to every known address in the country—this will happen in late March, 2010. You should fill out the 10-question form and mail it back to the Census Bureau. In late April, the Census Bureau will send “enumerators” to those addresses that did not mail in their forms and do a hand count of individuals living in that household. All enumerators will have Census Bureau identification papers. The federal government uses the results to distribute money to cities and states and to allocate U.S. House of Representatives seats among states. State legislatures use the results to define Congressional district and state legislative boundaries.
You will be asked for the names, ages, gender and race of everyone living in your household. You will not be asked for your Social Security number or any questions about income or your immigration status. Your answers are completely confidential. The Census Bureau does not share its information with any other government agencies, such as the Immigration & Naturalization Service, the Internal Revenue Service, courts or police. It is unlawful for the Census Bureau to give personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it is collected for the decennial census.
When will the Census take place?
The U.S. Census Bureau will begin mailing Census forms in March 2010. April 1, 2010 is National Census Day – Use this day as a point of reference for sending your completed forms back in the mail. Between April and July 2010, Census volunteers and employees will visit households that did not respond.
How are census data used?
Census data determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census data also help determine the allocation of federal funds for community services, such as school lunch programs and senior citizen centers, and new construction, such as highways and hospitals. Every year, the federal government distributes more than $400 billion to local, state and tribal governments based on census data.
Is information shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, courts or the police?
No, individual census records are not shared with anyone, including government agencies or private organizations. It is against the law for the Census Bureau to give personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it is collected for the decennial census. After 72 years, the individual census records are sent to the National Archives where they are made public primarily for genealogical research.
How does the Census Bureau count people without a permanent residence?
Census Bureau workers undertake extensive operations to take in-person counts of people living in group quarters, such as college dormitories, military barracks, nursing homes and shelters, as well as those who have been displaced by natural disasters.
Completing the 2010 Census
When will census forms be delivered?
The form package, which will consist of the initial form, a cover letter and a return envelope, will be delivered between March 15 and March 17, 2010.
What should I do after I get the form?
Fill out the form in blue or black ink and mail it back in the enclosed, postage-paid envelope as soon as possible.
How long will it take to complete the form?
One of the shortest census forms in history, the 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.
What questions are asked on the 2010 Census form?
Four general questions are asked about the household:
If the housing unit is owned or rented
How many people live in the residence
If any additional people who lived at the residence on April 1, 2010, <- were not included
And for each household member, we ask:
Age and date of birth
Relationship to the person who owns or rents this residence
Whether this person is of Hispanic origin
If this person sometimes lives or stays elsewhere
What if I lost my return envelope?
If your postage-paid envelope is lost or missing from your package, mail your completed form to:
U.S. Census Bureau
National Processing Center
1201 East 10th Street
Jeffersonville, IN 47132
Who should fill out the Census form?
The head of household should complete the form on behalf of every person living in the residence on April 1, 2010, including relatives and non-relatives. The person filling out the form should include information about all household members (including himself/herself and infants) who live and sleep at the address most of the time. The person also should include people who are staying there on April 1, 2010, who have no permanent place to stay. The Census Bureau is required by the U.S. Constitution to count everyone living in this country, regardless of immigration or citizenship status.
How will the 2010 Census differ from previous censuses?
In 2010, every residence will receive a short form of just 10 questions. More detailed socioeconomic information previously collected through the decennial census will be asked annually of a small percentage of the population through the American Community Survey. To learn more about the American Community Survey, visit www.census.gov/acs.
Do I have to respond to the 2010 census?
Yes, your participation in the 2010 Census is vital and required by law. Title 13 section 221 of the United States Code requires your response. Title 13 also requires that the Census Bureau keep respondents’ answers confidential and uses them only for tabulations that do not reveal any personal data about individuals or households.
What happens if I don't respond?
Although the law makes it a crime not to answer the decennial census, the American Community Survey and other mandatory censuses, and authorizes the courts to impose a fine of up to $5,000 for failure to respond, the Census Bureau views this approach as a last resort. Rather than emphasizing or seeking the imposition of penalties, we encourage response by explaining the importance of the questions we ask and how the information benefits the community.
Can I get paid to complete this form?
No, your participation is required by law.
What is the due date for returning the form?
Households should complete and mail back their forms upon receipt. Ideally, all forms will be returned by Census Day on April 1, 2010. Census workers will visit households that do not return forms to take a count in person.
Can I respond on the Internet?
No, this option is not available. Please complete and mail back your census form so we can get a complete and accurate count in 2010.
What type of assistance is available to help people complete the form?
2010 Census form language assistance guides are available in at least 59 languages. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) also will assist those unable to read or understand the form. A Teletext Device for the Deaf (TDD) program will help the hearing impaired. Contact your Regional Census Center for more details about the types of assistance available and for QAC locations.
Why do you want our names?
We request names for the following reasons:
To help ensure people are not counted twice in the census.
To help eliminate simple errors like counting “Mary Jones” as a male.
To allow you, and only you, to obtain a record from the Census Bureau at a later time if necessary for proving age, citizenship or family relationship. Some people need this information to qualify for Social Security benefits, to obtain passports and to have official proof for other purposes.
Although names are requested, the Census Bureau treats names the same as other census information provided — it is protected by law and strictly confidential. Information collected is used for statistical purposes only; the Census Bureau cannot publish or release information that would identify you or your household.
Why do you need my telephone number?
We may need to clarify your form responses. If we have a telephone number, we may be able to do this without having to send a census worker to your home. Your telephone number is kept confidential, as are all your responses.
Why does the Census Bureau ask about race and Hispanic origin?
The Census Bureau collects race data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and these data are based on self-identification. The racial categories included in the census form generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country, and are not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin or socio-cultural groups. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian and White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino or Spanish may be of any race. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include both racial and national origin or socio-cultural groups. You may choose more than one race category.
Information on race is required for many federal programs and is critical in making policy decisions, particularly for civil rights. States use these data to meet legislative redistricting principles. Race data also are used to promote equal employment opportunities and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks.
Why doesn’t the race question include more categories?
The race categories are those that are approved for data collection purposes by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. For more information, visit the Office of Management and Budget Web site at: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/1997standards.html.
Why does the census form have room for only six people?
The Census Bureau decided to use a six-person form for the 2010 Census based on extensive research that indicated that most households contain six or fewer people. Given the small number of households with seven or more people, it is less expensive for the Census Bureau to follow up with those households than it is to produce, print and mail a form with space for seven or more people.
Do we count Americans living abroad?
Yes, in some cases. The 2010 Census counts will include federal employees (military and civilian) and their dependents living overseas with them that can be assigned to a home state.
These data are provided to the Census Bureau by the employing federal departments and agencies through their administrative records. However, private U.S. citizens living abroad who are not affiliated with the federal government (either as employees or their dependents) will not be included in the overseas counts. These overseas counts are used solely for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
What if this address is not a residence or home?
If there is an apartment, mobile home, room or group of rooms where people live or stay at this address, then a household member who is at least 15 years of age can fill out and return the form by mail in the postage-paid envelope provided. If the address is nonresidential or if people do not live or stay at that address, then do not complete the form. A census worker will visit the address to verify that it is nonresidential and remove the address from the master address list. If you receive additional letters or forms in the mail, simply ignore them.
What if the housing unit at the address is vacant on Census Day?
If the housing unit is vacant on Census Day, then do not complete the form. A census worker will visit the address and collect information from a knowledgeable respondent on the status of the unit. If you receive additional letters or forms in the mail, simply ignore them.
We are all visitors at this address. Should we fill out the form?
No, include only those people who live or stay there most of the time. But if you have no other permanent place to stay, you should fill out the form. If no one lives there most of the time, then enter a zero in question one for the number of people. Do not mark any other items. Please return the form in the enclosed postage-paid envelope.
I returned my completed form but a census worker still visited my home. Why?
We may not have received your form in time to update the census worker’s assignment, or your form may have been delayed or lost in the mail. When this happens, we instruct the census worker to collect your information anyway to remove the risk of not receiving your information.
But won’t I get counted twice that way?
No, the Census Bureau has procedures to eliminate duplicate forms. There is an ID number associated with each household’s form. This prevents us from counting you more than once.
Why was I visited multiple times?
Quality checks are used to assure our procedures are working and that staff is doing the job as assigned. These checks require that some households be visited several times.
Do I fill out the form if I’m moving out before April 1, 2010, or if the unit will be vacant on April 1, 2010?
No, please do not complete the form. The census counts people where they live on April 1, 2010; look for a form to be delivered to your new address.
Why don’t you collect the information on the housing unit when you update the address list?
The household information reported must pertain to Census Day, which is April 1, 2010. The address updating operation takes place April 2009 through July 2009, to leave time for processing, updating our address list and mailing the forms.
Why did I receive a bilingual form?
We are providing this form in areas where census data suggest there are many Spanish speakers who could benefit from receiving a form in Spanish as well as English. We believe this will help respondents complete the form with limited assistance from the Census Bureau.
How do I make corrections on the form?
If the error is in a write-in box, carefully draw a line through the incorrect entry and write the correct information as close as possible to the entry you lined through. This way, the person who reviews your form will know what you intended. If you checked the wrong box, just draw a line through it and mark the correct box for the question.
How can I contact the regional Census Bureau?
Boston Regional Office
4 Copley Place, Suite 301
Boston, MA 02117-9108
(617) 424-4501 or 1-800-562-5721
FAX: (617) 424-0547
TDD: (617) 424-0565