What to do with the 2020 Census invitation that’s likely coming to your mailbox soon

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When an invitation shows up in the mail asking you to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census, don’t throw it out.

It’s not junk mail!

RELATED: The upcoming U.S. Census: 6 common questions answered

Census season kicks off in March 2020

The U.S. Constitution mandates that an official count of the U.S. population be conducted for Congress every 10 years. That tally plays a huge role in determining the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal and state funds annually.

The next decennial headcount kicks off in earnest beginning March 2020.

Some 95% of U.S. households will receive an invitation by mail to respond to the Census at that time.

Census map

However, there are three ways to respond:

  • Online
  • By mail
  • Over the phone

The key takeaway for now is this: When a mailer shows up asking you to reply to this headcount, pay attention to it.

If you don’t, you’re sure to get a lot of follow-up mailers and possibly even an in-person visit down the road!


Here’s what the timeline of Census communication will look like in March and April 2020:

Timeline What to expect
March 12-20 First invitation to respond
March 16-24 Reminder letter
March 26-April 3 Reminder postcard
April 8-16 Reminder letter with paper questionnaire
April 20-27
Final postcard reminder

To learn what kind of questions will be asked — and whether or not you have to answer — see our article titled The upcoming U.S. Census: 6 common questions answered.

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