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2020 Census Information and Resources for Libraries: Important Dates

Useful resources to prepare for the 2020 Census

Important Dates

Census Day 2020

  • Invitations to complete the 2020 Census arrive in mid-March.
  • April 1 is Census Day.
  • When completing the census, respondent's should include everyone living in the home on April 1, 2020.
  • People can self-respond in one of three (3) ways: Online, by Phone, or by Mail. Self-response is available through October 15, 2020. Mailed Census responses must be postmarked by Thursday October 14, 2020.

Overall Timeline

  • Counting every person living in the United States is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance.

Here's a look at some of the key dates:


  • January 21: The U.S. Census Bureau starts counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially begins in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.

  • March 12 - 20Households began receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.  

  • Dates TBD: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.

  • April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. Most every home has received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. However, due to COVID19, there are many rural communities that have not yet received an official invitation. Every household can respond online or by phone even without a census invitation. When you respond to the census, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.

  • July - September 3: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.

  • September 22-24: The Census Bureau plans to send specially trained census takers to count people at shelters, soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, and locations previously identified by the Census Bureau where people are known to sleep outdoors (like under bridges) and at all-night businesses (such as transit stations and 24-hour laundromats). People experiencing homelessness will be counted where they are staying when the census takers visit between September 22-24. 

  • August - September: Census takers will visit homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.

  • By April 30, 2021: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.


  • By July 31, 2021: The Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.