The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the Mail Contact Strategies Viewer showing how the country will be asked to respond to the 2020 Census. Nearly every household will be invited to respond online, by phone or by mail to the census starting in mid-March 2020. Most areas—about three of every four households—will receive an invitation to respond online (or by phone), while the other households will receive a paper questionnaire along with an invitation to respond online. Regardless of which invitation they receive, all households that have not yet responded will receive a paper questionnaire by mid-April. This map also shows which households will receive English/Spanish bilingual invitations and questionnaires.

The interactive map illustrates the contact strategy to inform the public and partners of the Census Bureau’s plan to count everyone by geographic location for the 2020 Census. A decade of research and testing has determined the best way to invite everyone to respond to the 2020 Census.

Most households will first receive a letter asking them to complete the census questionnaire online with information about how to respond online or by phone in English plus 12 non-English languages. Areas less likely to respond online, approximately 21.8% of households, will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone. Areas assigned to receive a paper questionnaire first have a low self-response rate to the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey (ACS), and have either low internet response rates, high population over age 65, or low rate of internet subscriptions.

In addition, the 2020 Census supports language needs across the country. All households will receive information about how to respond in 12 non-English languages online and by phone, and about 9.3% of households (or 13 million) will receive English/Spanish bilingual invitations. These areas were designated where 20% or more of households in a census tract (areas with about 4,000 households) need Spanish language assistance — defined as households that have at least one person age 15 or older who speaks Spanish and doesn’t speak English “very well” (based on ACS data). Most states (40 out of 50) plus the District of Columbia have at least some areas assigned to receive English/Spanish invitations. These areas may also receive bilingual paper questionnaires in the first invitation if they are part of an area determined to be less likely to respond online. Regardless of which invitation they received, all households that received bilingual invitations and have not yet responded will receive a bilingual paper questionnaire by mid-April.

The map released today focuses solely on the 95% of households who will receive their census invitation and/or questionnaire in the mail. It does not show the almost five percent of the nation’s households that will receive their questionnaire when a census taker drops it off at their home nor does it reflect the less than one percent that will be counted in person instead of invited to respond on their own. These special areas can instead be viewed in the Type of Enumeration Area (TEA) Viewer.

A downloadable Excel file is available, indicating the contact strategies assignments for each census tract. The tracts would follow the same boundaries as shown when a user zooms in on the map.