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2020 U.S. Census

U.S. Constitution

Article 1, Section 2

The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;

United States Code

Given the importance of the U.S. Census, there are many laws that provide the authority for the Census Bureau to conduct their work and that provide strong protections to individuals and businesses who complete Census Bureau surveys. These laws are compiled in Title 13 of the United States Code.  

Title 13 provides the following protections to individuals and businesses:

  • Private information is never published. It is against the law to disclose or publish any private information that identifies an individual or business such, including names, addresses (including GPS coordinates), Social Security Numbers, and telephone numbers.
  • The Census Bureau collects information to produce statistics. Personal information cannot be used against respondents by any government agency or court.
  • Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect confidentiality. People sworn to uphold Title 13 are legally required to maintain the confidentiality of your data. Every person with access to your data is sworn for life to protect your information and understands that the penalties for violating this law are applicable for a lifetime.
  • Violating the law is a serious federal crime. Anyone who violates this law will face severe penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
  • The official census date in April 1st. Whoever resides in a household on that date gets counted, even if someone fill out the forms on a different date.
  • The Census Bureau is required to submit state population totals to the U.S. President by December 31 of any year ending in zero. This data will be sent to the states in the following spring for purposes of Congressional reapportionment and redistricting (if necessary or desired).

Title 44

To support historical research, Title 44 of the U.S. Code allows the National Archives and Records Administration to release census records only after 72 years. Once released, these census records are used extensively by historians and genealogists in their research endeavors.