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How and When It Happens

The goal of the 2020 Census is to conduct a complete and accurate count of the U.S. population. The challenge of the 2020 Census is to accomplish this at a lower cost per household (adjusted for inflation) than the 2010 Census. New technology makes it possible to maintain high-quality results at an affordable cost. 

Case in point: for the 2020 Census, individuals will for the first time be able to complete and submit their census forms online. People who are unable to complete the Census online will again have the option to be counted by mail, over the phone, or in-person by a door-to-door Census taker. 

The Minnesota State Demographic Center issued statements on August 26 and August 28 to raise concerns about the progress of the U.S. Census Bureau’s NRFU (non-response follow-up) field operations in Minnesota, especially in Hennepin County.

What that means for you is ultimately pretty simple. By April 1, 2020, you will receive an invitation to participate in the Census. The invitation will give you three options for completing your census form:

  • online; 
  • by phone; or 
  • over the mail. 

To ensure you don't miss your invitation, you can sign up to receive an extra reminder from the Census Bureau and they'll send you an email to let you know as soon as you can complete your Census form. You can also prepare and ensure a smooth process by reviewing the questions you'll be expected to answer on the Census. Again, the process for respondents is designed to be simple and convenient. 

And remember, the Census Bureau is required by law to keep your answers confidential. That means they must protect your personal information and will never share it with any other people or organizations, inside or outside of government.

For More Information

The U.S. Census Bureau's Operational Plan documents the current design for conducting the 2020 Census in more detail. Our When It Happens page also includes more information on how (and when) specific Census activities will take place.

Mark your calendar -- Census Day is April 1, 2020. But preparation has already begun! In the months leading up to the big day, numerous activities take place that lay the groundwork before the official Census count -- also known as "enumeration" -- occurs. Here's a rundown of important dates, milestones, and timelines.



-Communications and advertising campaigns supporting the 2020 Census begin. Keep up with everything that's happening on the News and Updates section of our website.


-Area Census Offices begin opening in communities around Minnesota. In-field operations begin as well, with tasks and activities related to Address Canvassing and Group Quarters -- such as apartment and condo buildings.



-March 12th-20th: You will receive an invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census (some households will also receive the paper questionnaire). 

-March 16th-24th: A reminder letter to complete your census form will be sent. 

-March 26th-April 3rd: A reminder postcard is sent. 


-The official Census Day arrives on April 1, 2020, as residents are invited to complete the census form online, by mail, or over the phone. 

-April 8th-April 16th: A reminder letter and paper questionnaire are sent to all households that have not responded. 

-April 20th-April 27th: A final reminder postcard is sent to all households who have not responded, this is the final postcard distributed before the Census Bureau follows up in-person.

After Census Day 

-Later in the month of April, extending through August 2020, Census takers go door-to-door to collect information from residents who did not complete a census form using any of these methods.  

For More Information

Want more details on key Census dates and timelines? The Funders Committee for Civic Participation has compiled an overview of key 2020 milestones. For even more detail, check out the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 Census Operational Plan, which documents its detailed plans for conducting the Census.

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