The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of the United States every 10 years, going all the way back to 1790. The data collected during the census is used in a variety of ways that affect decisions regarding community services provided to residents and the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. This funding supports local programs for schools, health care, community assistance, infrastructure and other important needs. The census also determines the number of representatives each state will have in Congress.

The census counts every person – both adults and children – living in the United States. This information helps monitor changes in communities and is used to identify and address public service needs such as health care, education, public safety, housing, food, and rural access to broadband.

How to Respond

During the period of March 12-20, 2020, each Alabama household will receive a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions for how to complete the census. Click here for a sample copy of the letter.

The questions are easy to answer and focus on the number of persons living or staying in a household and the basic demographic information about those persons. Click here to learn more about the questions and view the sample form.

You may respond in one of three ways:

  1. Complete it online at
  2. Call the U.S. Census Bureau toll-free 844-330-2020. Telephone assistance is also available in multiple languages:
  3. Return the paper form included with your invitation letter (see next paragraph).

Some households, mainly in rural areas, will receive a traditional paper form during the first mailing while other households, mainly in metro areas, will receive an invitation to respond online first. By mid-April, everyone who has not yet responded will receive a paper form. Click here to see what type of mailing your area will receive.

Here is a timeline:

  • March 12 – 20: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
  • March 30 – April 1: 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. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
  • April: 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.
  • May – July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
  • December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.

Safe and Secure

The census is safe and secure. All the information you provide to the U.S. Census Bureau is confidential and cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. Anyone who violates this law faces severe penalties. The law is found in Title 13 of the U.S. Code. More:

If you receive something in the mail that resembles a census form, but are unsure, here are a few helpful reminders:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau will not mail out letters, invitations or forms related to the 2020 Census until March 12, 2020. Here is a schedule. (PDF)
  • Official U.S. Census Bureau letters and surveys, including the 2020 Census, will always be from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for a monetary donation, bank account or credit card information.
  • If you are unsure about a form, check or A sample copy of the official 2020 Census form is available on Alabama Counts website. Click here. (PDF)
  • If you are still unsure, you may always email Alabama Counts at or contact the U.S. Census Bureau’s hotline at 800-923-8282.

Census Bureau Jobs in Alabama

The U.S. Census Bureau is in process of hiring many temporary workers to help complete the census in Alabama. These workers will staff census offices that are expected to open in the state later in 2019 and serve as census takers. The Census Bureau expects to hire for these positions throughout 2019 and into 2020. To apply, go to