Census FAQs

Your 2020 Census Questions Answered!

In March 2020, every household in Surprise will receive an invitation by mail to respond to the U.S. Census – a nationwide population count that only happens every 10 years.

To make sure you’ve got the details on this very important count, we’ve got the answers to some commonly-asked questions.

The Basics

What is the census?
The U.S. Census is a count of every person living in the United States and its territories to determine how much funding each area needs for resources like schools, emergency services, healthcare programs, roads and more.

When is the census?
Census Day is April 1, but the Census Bureau will start mailing invitations on how to respond to every household in mid-March 2020.

What questions are on the census?
The census asks basic demographic questions such as: how many people live in the home; name, date of birth, sex, race and relationships of people in the household; and if the home is owned or rented. See a copy of the questionnaire at surpriseaz.gov/census2020.

How do I take the census?
There are three ways to respond to the census: online, by phone or by mail. This is the first year online response is an option. Households will receive an invitation in the mail with instructions. Online Response Tip: Our local libraries offer free use of computers to take the survey!

When do I have to respond by?
The response deadline is September 30. However, between August and September 2020, census workers will begin following up in person with households that have not responded.

Do I have to take the census?
Yes. By law, every person who lives in the U.S. and its territories is required to respond to the census.

Why does the census matter?
The data collected by the census determines $675 billion dollars in federal funding that is distributed to states and communities every year. Census data helps with the allocation of federal funding across 55 programs, including the National School Lunch Program and federal student loan programs. It’s also about representation. If the 2020 Census accurately reflects Arizona’s population growth, our state is expected to gain one seat in the House of Representatives. Plus, results are used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts, and city council districts. The data also helps the city to decide where to locate police and fire stations, parks and other public services. It can also assist businesses in choosing where they want to locate.

Counting Your Household

What if more than one family lives in my household?
If multiple families live under one roof, each head of household per family needs to fill out the census for their household.

I am a temporary resident, “Snowbird”, or multi-home owner. Where do I count myself? 
Each housing unit will receive census mailers, but the “head of household” will respond using the address of their usual residence – where they live most of the time. If you split time equally between homes, you should count where you are staying on April 1, 2020.

Non-U.S. Citizens should be counted too. Regardless of whether or not a foreign citizen lives in the United States (US) for six (6) months, they should take the Census in the state that is their primary residence while they are living in the US.

See special instructions for foreign citizens

I am not a U.S. Citizen. Should I participate? 
If you live and sleep most of the time at a U.S. residence, you should respond to the census. The foreign resident population includes legal permanent residents, foreign students in the United States on student visas, foreign diplomats and embassy staff, and other foreign citizens.

See special instructions for foreign citizens

My child/children split their time between two households. How do I count them?
Your children should be counted in the household where they live and sleep most of the time. If they split their time equally between homes, count them where they are staying on April 1, 2020.

My grandchildren and/or an elderly relative lives with me. Do I count them on my census?
Yes, if they live with you most of the time.

My child is a newborn. Do I still count them?
Yes. Infants and babies should be counted as well.

I’m a college student living away from home. Do I count myself, or do my parents?
If you live and sleep in a dorm or apartment during most of the year, then count yourself as living there. Your parents should not count you as living in their household. Group quarters counts (like dorms) begin in Feb 2020.

What if my living situation is not listed here?
For more information on unique circumstances and/or how to complete the questionnaire, visit 2020census.gov/who-to-count.

Privacy & Security

Are my answers safe online?
Yes. The U.S. Census online survey site is safe and secure.

Does the census require or include a citizenship question?
No, the 2020 Census does not include any questions about citizenship.

Are my answers confidential?
Yes, responses to the Census questionnaire are completely confidential and anonymous. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share census data with any other person, organization, court, business or government agency, i.e. law enforcement.

For more information about the Census and how to count your household, visit www.2020census.gov