A: Most survey samples are address-based, others are telephone number- or person-based. The U.S. Census Bureau randomly selected your household or business through a process of scientific sampling. We collect data from a sample of the population to produce estimates for the entire population. This ensures that a small sample represents the entire group covered by the survey.
Q: How are surveys done?
A: Household surveys are conducted via mail, telephone, personal visit (with a laptop, Smartphone, tablet, or a few with paper questionnaires), online, or using a combination of these methods. We conduct business surveys in a variety of ways; however, most surveys can be completed using the internet, either via direct online submission or by downloading and using census-approved survey software.
We conduct household surveys:
by phone or
We conduct business surveys:
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) conducts a telephone prescreener operation (to confirm contact information and eligibility) prior to mailing materials to a business.
Q: How will you contact me?
A: For household surveys, once we select your address, we send you an official letter from the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Because most surveys are “addressed-based,” and we do not know who lives there, most letters are addressed to “the resident of."
Depending on the survey, there may be four options for responding: online, completing and mailing back the paper form, over the phone with one of our Contact Center interviewers, or a personal visit with one of our Regional Office field representatives.
If we mailed you a form, and we did not receive a completed survey from you, we may follow up with a phone call or personal visit.
For businesses, once selected, will receive a survey invitation via mail, email, or fax. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), conducts a telephone prescreener operation (to confirm contact information and eligibility) prior to mailing materials to a business.
Your letter or form will include instructions on how to respond. If online reporting is available, we will provide a URL and the necessary credentials to log onto our electronic reporting website and access your survey.
Q: Is this a real survey?
A: To verify that a household survey is legitimate, please refer to our list of Household Surveys first. You can also verify that the person contacting you is a Census Bureau employee by entering the name into the Census Bureau Staff Search. If you still have questions or concerns contact the Regional Office for your state and ask, “Am I in a survey?”
To verify that a business survey is legitimate, please refer to the list of business surveys. If you still have questions or concerns contact the phone number listed on your letter.
Q: Is the caller or visitor a U.S. Census Bureau employee?
A: To verify that a visitor to your household is legitimate, you can confirm that he or she is a Census Bureau employee by entering his or her name into the Census Bureau Staff Search or by contacting the Regional Office for your state. Our field staff will always show a valid Census Bureau ID and a copy of the letter we sent you.
To verify that a caller to your household or business is legitimate, call or e-mail the National Processing Center.
Q: Do I have to participate in the survey?
A: The Census Bureau will always tell you whether your participation is mandatory or voluntary, and we encourage you to answer all questions asked. To learn more about which surveys require mandatory participation, please find your survey - List of All Surveys.
Q: Why does the U.S. Census Bureau do surveys?
A: The Census Bureau's mission is to serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy.
Q: When is my survey due?
A: The letter or form will contain a specific date, or ask you to respond within a certain number of days of receipt. For more information on when your specific survey is due, please find your survey or contact your Regional Office. Note: For some surveys, you may request more time.
Q: When will the results from the census be available?
A: The nation should see the very first results from the 2020 Census in the form of total population counts for the nation and each state in late 2020 or early 2021. In 2021 each state receives local-level 2020 Census data on race and the voting age population. As required by law, the Census Bureau will provide these key demographic data to the states so the state governments can redraw the boundaries of their U.S. Congressional and state legislative districts. Public Law 94-171 requires that the redistricting data must be delivered to state officials responsible for legislative redistricting within one year of Census day or no later than April 1, 2021.