Is The Address on Your Form Not What You Expected?

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

This post contains updates to the entry from March 13.

As we’re getting closer to the census, it’s a good time to answer some questions about various quirks of the process of mailing letters and forms out to 120 million addresses all at once.

In short, almost everything that can happen, will happen. Although we’ve checked and double-checked our address list and worked with the Postal Service to make sure we’ve supplied them the addresses as they can most easily use them, unexpected events will occur. Some of these are nothing for a household to worry about; others mean that we may have missed something.

One question keeps popping up: What should I do if my census form has an incorrect address or if I don’t receive a form at all?

If your form has a different city name or zip code than the one you are used to seeing on your mail, but it otherwise correct, please note the following:

The actual location of your address has been verified for accuracy. The 20-digit identification number on your form links back to our master address and geographic files where we store the information about the correct geographic location to which your housing unit belongs. This geographic information was verified last year by census workers who physically located each housing unit on the ground and assigned the housing units a “geocode” using special census maps and GPS coordinates.

The address on your census form or advance letter may not list the city name or ZIP code you identify with or are used to seeing on your mail. This is a result of a cost-saving measure that streamlines how the forms are sorted and delivered to you by the U.S. Postal Service. It will NOT affect which city, town or block your household’s responses will be assigned to when we tabulate census results.

If the address on the form is completely wrong, it must have been delivered to you by mistake. Please destroy this form. If this is the only form you received, please read below for what to do if you do not receive a form.

If you don’t receive a form at all, please take the following steps:

1) Please wait a little longer. We have not yet finished delivery of the forms:

In areas where Census employees deliver the forms (rather than having the postal service deliver them), the delivery operation has been underway since the beginning of March, but will not be completed for all areas until the end of March.

In areas where the USPS is delivering the forms, that should be completed this week. In many of these areas, we will send a replacement form beginning in early April. If through some error you did not get your original form, you still might get a replacement form.

Please note that in some parts of the country (about 1% of all addresses), including remote areas, many American Indian reservations, or areas without postal delivery, the Census Bureau does not send a form to the household. In these areas, we send an enumerator to collect the household information in person. Except for these areas, we have gone to great lengths to ensure a questionnaire is delivered to every address. However, we know that sometimes this won’t happen. Therefore we have set up two ways for you to be included in the census:

2) Visit a Questionnaire Assistance Center or Be Counted center: These are sites where you can obtain a questionnaire. A “Be Counted” questionnaire asks you to put down a full description of your address, and then contains the same 10 questions as the other Census form. You can complete a Be Counted questionnaire if you have not received your form. Beginning March 19 through April 19, Be Counted questionnaires will be available in public locations, such as libraries, within your community and at Questionnaire Assistance Centers where census workers will be available to answer questions. Beginning March 18, these locations will be posted on

3) Contact Us: If you still have not received your form by April 12, then you may contact one of our 2010 Census Toll-free help lines.

  • English: 1-866-872-6868
  • Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
  • Korean: 1-866-955-2010
  • Russian: 1-866-965-2010
  • Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
  • Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010
  • TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in English): 1-866-939-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in Spanish): 1-866-929-2010

What if I receive two questionnaires delivered to my home, but with different addresses?

Please fill out the form for the address you normally use for your mail, and mail it back. You can discard the second form. Because we have to account for each form we mail out, a census taker might come to your home between May and July to find out why the second form was not mailed back. At that time you can tell the census taker that you received two forms and were told to mail one back and discard the other one. We apologize for any inconvenience if that happens.

The bottom line is that we have a whole series of operations to make sure that we include you in the census at the right location.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to

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48 Responses to Is The Address on Your Form Not What You Expected?

  1. SR says:

    In regard to “race”. I agree with the other comments that say that using race labels perpetuates stereotypes. First of all, there is no such thing as a “white” person. Nobody has white-colored skin. DNA studies have shown that there is no such thing as a “pure white” person. The definitions on the government website says “a person of European descent”. Scientifically, European descent means nothing anymore. Before there were nations, Nordic people, Scandinavian people, Slavic, Siberian, Asian, Mediterranean people traveled around and populations mixed. So, using a lack of skin pigmentation to summarize a person’s DNA is idiotic. Socially it also has no meaning. I am as far from Glenn Beck as a human creature can be.

  2. rosemary says:

    If this is counting people at a certain address on April 2010, how can we fill it out prior to that date? This may sound horrible but people die every day. Can I fill it out and send it in now or should I wait?

  3. MH says:

    I expect that with many of our soldiers deployed, the question regarding whether a deployed married servicemember should be counted on the census form sent to his or her home would have a ready answer. But, no, of course that wasn’t the case. The lady that attempted to answer my question was clearly not even familiar with the military. So would someone out there in government land answer that for me. AM I SUPPOSED TO COUNT MY DEPLOYED HUSBAND ON OUR CENSUS FORM OR NOT???
    As for the race question- get over it – it’s just a question.

  4. Nathaniel says:

    My mail says that I am legally obligated to fill it out. I am an American, and do not take kindly to being told I must do things or else… this sounds like a threat, and I respond to threats with no cooperation. You could just have asked, and I would have been fine with it, but throw in some legal garbage, and you are on my f-u list. Thanks though anyway.

  5. As a professional genealogist, I’m concerned that future generations of genealogy researchers won’t be able to tell from my listing that I’m married. My husband is currently a deployed soldier to the Middle East, and because I could only list myself (per the instructions regarding military members), there won’t be a record that I’m married. And it was also disappointing to see that the census didn’t ask for number of years married, place of birth, or occupation – all great material for researchers looking at census forms from previous decades. Will this be the standard for future census forms, as well?

  6. debby says:

    I was really disappointed in the “race” area also. Black…African American or Negro? I thought our government had moved passed that stereotype also!!

  7. our family received our form we filled it out and mailed it today. however we intentionally refused to answer the questions regarding our children. we listed them. we included their birth dates. but we did not reveal if they are our children by birth or by adoption. we have children by birth and by adoption and we believe they are our children PERIOD. in the eyes of the laws in this country this is true as well. why must we make this distinction? how in the world does this improve congressional representation, federal aid and services to our community if you know whether or not our family was the result of conception, pregnancy and birth or by adoption? frankly it is none of your business.
    explain to me how this information is important and used and perhaps i will be more forth-coming when the census worker contacts me regarding my incomplete form; otherwise, it is none of your business.

  8. Households should complete and return their forms upon receipt.

  9. Count Me In says:

    In a different post your stated that it cost over $50 to send out a representative. If a person receives two forms, why not have them just mark the wrong one as “duplicate” and “return to sender” on the envelope. It would be more cost advantageous for the Census bureau to pay for the return postage that to send a rep out just to be told there was a duplication. Then you would only have to check on the ones that weren’t returned.

  10. Not Counted says:

    A census form was delivered to my upstairs Apt.2 address. I live downstairs and am owner of this house and have not yet received my form what should I do? Wait or call someone??
    Not Counted.

  11. Charles says:

    I have exactly the same thought. We need to be counted – I get that. But how does the information about whether my son is mine by adoption or by birth have ANYTHING to do with the reasons for requiring us to fill out the census? My form is completed and waiting to be picked up in today’s mail. I am tempted to retrieve it before it gets picked up until someone from the census bureau can answer this question for us.

  12. nazar says:

    iam recevied forms but iam lost my form can i get anew one please .

  13. Not Counted,
    Please contact a questionnaire assistance center at

  14. maddy says:

    I got two forms with the simple 10 questions–one for my house and for a basement apartment —-I don’t have a basement!!My house is slab construction! Where do they get this crap?
    Why do I have to put my birthday, month, date, and year? This is an invasion of privacy! I only put down the year. My birth date is information that can be used for fraudulant activities and identity theft. They do not need to know the exact date is.
    Why do they have to know if I own my house outright (no mortgage) or if I have a mortgage? I understand the question about if I am a tenant renting the house, or living there for nothing (sqwuaters? forclosures?). But again that information about whether I OWN my house or have a mortgage to pay is NOT their right to know. This is an invasion of privacy, and the answer can be used for fraud. …. Someone can take out a mortgage, in my name, my birthdate, and have a different “mailing” address etc.
    I have been a victim of fraud/theft and had to work hard to clear my good name. I am not about to give out PERSONAL data even to the US Census ! And if I get the long form, I will NOT fill it out. They can try to fine me—I will bring legal action because it is unconstitutional. Only the enumeration of citizens is in the constitution.

  15. Charles and Laura,
    Adoption data are collected on Census forms in order to inform the government of the growing diversity of US families and to provide information to better effect government policies related to tax assistance to families with adopted children, programs that encourage adoption or programs that assist families who adopt children.
    Many of those programs and potential legislative actions are shown in the page below on the website of the National Council for Adoption which depends on the Census Bureau as providing the only national and state level information on the number of adopted children and the characteristics of those families who adopt children.

  16. Maddy,
    If the residence is empty, please return the form with a 0. You can read about the history and purpose of each question at

  17. Sharon says:

    We received one form, though my elderly parents live on the same property in their own mobile home while me and my family live in the main house; we share the same address and mailbox. How should my parents be counted?

  18. Sharon,
    For more information please contact a Questionnaire Assistance Center

  19. Diz says:

    I read the purpose of each question, and I agree: It is an invasion of my privacy to disclose my exact birthday, my relationship status,sex,race,my telephone number, even my name: this is all personal information. I do not find the explanations of purpose to be satisfactory enough to comply.The number and ages should suffice. If I want to use government funding for anything, it should be my CHOICE to disclose any of my personal information.

  20. Latasha says:

    I agree Debby, As a proud African American Women, You would think we were passed racism….But as you can see we are clearly NOT. The term “NEGRO” is very inappropiate! This is a term used in slavery….HAVE RESPECT FOR OUR PRESIDENT!!!!!!!! Was this language used to upset us black americans so we won’t complete our census forms and not be counted??? and our neighbor hoods will be missed as well… UNTIL THIS GETS FIXED TO REFLECT THE PROPER TERMINOLOGY I’M TELLING EVERY PERSON I KNOW NOT TO COMPLETE IT….THIS A CLEAR SIGN OF ONGOING RACISM!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Mike says:

    Two weeks before I received the census, I received a notice that the census would be mailed to me soon. After the census was mailed to me, I received another notice to ask me if I had completed and mailed it. That is a total of three mailings. Why don’t you just mail out the census and save the other postage. We are not children. I am sure that the postage is paid for with tax payers funds.

  22. Law Abiding Citizen says:

    I applied for a job with the census bureau, took the written test, scored a perfect score but wasn’t hired. Later I found out through a census bureau employee that the reason I wasn’t hired was because I am not bilingual. Bilingual? Are you kidding me? Born in Los Angeles, lived here my entire life, paid taxes, law abiding citizen and I can’t get a job because I don’t speak Spanish. Kiss my butt!

  23. Wanda McDonough says:

    As a genealogist I was VERY disappointed to find there were no questions about employment, and other facts that were so very helpful on past forms. I gather from the comments that some people got forms with more questions, mine was so basic as to be almost useless to future generations. Just counting bodies is not enough. I worked the census in 1980 and 1990. The long forms were so benificial to future genealogists.
    I feel it is a shame that those of us willing to give all the information get the short forms and those resentful and fearful of invasion of privacy get the long forms. I think this is going to be a very expensive waste of money. What a shame, this is our chance as individuals to shape our communities future.

  24. Wanda,
    This data is now collected yearly in the American Community Survey. For more information about the American Community Survey Visit:

  25. Jason says:

    Your answer doesn’t address the fact that, per the Constitution, this data is none of your business. I received no aid for adopting my son, and quite frankly, I don’t care what organization feels they need to categorize my family. As a result, I will not answer that question either way, as he is my son, regardless of how he came to be in our family. You should read the Constitution some time, the only question you are legally allowed to ask is how many people live here. Very simple, and I’m sure it would save some of the hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money the census is wasting.

  26. S. Baker says:

    My tiny town of 700+ people doesn’t have local area delivery. We are all issued a P.O. box and we have to pick up our mail at the Post Office that is only a couple of blocks away. But from reading this article it sounds like towns like mine won’t be mailed forms and instead will have someone going door-to-door? My Congressman lives here in town, will someone be knocking on his door too?
    I really think this is a waste of time and money. Many of those who live in town aren’t home during business hours. Many work outside of town because there simply aren’t any businesses here. (Ok…except for the gas station/quickmart, the Post Office, the general store that’s really a bait shop and the two insurence offices and a nasty little family owned pizza place…) Everyone else works outside of town.
    I just think in this day and age of computers that the U.S. Census Bureau can’t figure out how to make an online form available is kind of ridiculous.

  27. Barbara says:

    I think it is a waste of tax payers money to first send a card saying you will receive the census in a week. Then when I received it I sent it out the next day and today, less than a week later I receive another card as a reminder or if it is already sent in a thank you. Spend our money to save jobs for the police or fire departments or school teachers or a raise for social security.

  28. S. Baker,
    Upon completing the analysis of the Internet response options panels of the 2003 Census Test, and reviewing the preliminary response information from the 2005 Census Test, which included an Internet response option for all panels, both of these tests showed that providing Internet response options did not increase overall response rates, and that only a small proportion of all respondents (6.7 and 7.2 percent, respectively) chose to use this response option. The 2003 results also showed that providing only an Internet response mode actually reduced overall response.
    We have concluded that providing an Internet response option would not provide the desired savings. Without such savings, there also was no offset for the substantial costs involved with building and securing the systems needed to support such an option.
    In addition, while it is true that use of the Internet has increased since 2000, so has abuse of the Internet—hacking, identity theft, “phishing,” and a whole range of cyber crimes. Public concerns about the security of their information also have grown, as have our concerns about the ability to protect the information provided to us.
    All of this information contributed to our decision to forgo the Internet response option from the 2010 Census design.

  29. Barbara,
    We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form increase response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pay for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million.

  30. says:

    I received a postcard dated March 22, 1010 asking for my census forms returned. The census forms, however, request the number of people living in my home as of April 1, 2010. This makes no sense to me. Do you want the census now or after April 1st?

  31. Marianne Brandt says:

    Thanks Wanda, I too am very disappointed at the lack of valuable information that could be provided to future generations. The birth place, occupation, years married, # of children, # of children still living and parents’ birth places and education are priceless “family” information that help to tie families together. Thank you to those willing to fill out the minimal forms. It saddens me that some people are so caught up in themselves and their privacy that they fail to see the big picture and what can be gained through the census. Thank God our ancestors were not so paranoid!

  32. Kenneth Bugh Sr says:

    We did receive our census form and filled out the next day and mailed the next day .Today we get a notice saying we did not fill out our census form
    now what are we to do.

  33. Can't decide between "Other Asian" or "Korean" says:

    The 2010 Census included “A message from the Director, U.S. Census Bureau”. In this short 3 paragraph memo, several perplexing questions arise.
    On one hand you say: “Your answers are used for statistical purposes, and no other purpose”.
    On the other hand you say: “The amount of government money your neighborhood receives depends on these answers”.
    Well, which one is it? Does my “neighborhood” receive more money if I check the best race block in question 9? Or is my answer to the race question only for statistical purposes?

  34. Ron Wright says:

    There is another form, the American Communities Survey, which is mailed out to residents by the Census Bureau. It is sent to only 3% of the country’s residential addresses, however. On this form are questions that the Census Bureau uses to keep track of levels of income, values of houses, level of education attained, as well as other data. Any personal information is not available to anyone, however, until 70 years after the person dies. The ACS does let those businesses and agencies which use Census Bureau data gain an accurate picture of the community or the state about which they may be gathering data.

  35. Brenda says:

    I have not received my census form. My address is in a very populated area. I tried to have a census sent to me by calling the information line. I was then asked for a census ID. How can I have a census ID if I have not received a census. So now I have to wait until April 12,2010 as your instructions say to receive a census.
    That is outrageous! As I keep hearing people urging me to fill out the census. Or I can visit a be counted center. What about the people who do not have the ability to visit a center? This process should not be this complicated.

  36. F. L. Howard says:

    I’m still awaiting my form. Since GPS is involved, I’m screwed. GPS doesn’t know my location.

  37. Howard,
    If you have not received a form by April 12th call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868 or you can pick one up at a be counted site.

  38. Allan says:

    I wish Latasha and Derby could just ignore the deafening black protrayal and get on with the census. America will always remain united regardless of misperception,or misguided judgement provided we are able to decipher truth from error.
    I’m a black male who thinks cynicsm is counteracted by adhering to a streamline pathway. All I mean is that,you ladies I discern are pretty should get the census prettier by forsaking deterrents.

  39. Grady N. Davis says:

    I recieved a form first part of march and filled it out mailed in in; This
    week I received another letter saying I would recieve another form in a few days The adress an all info was same on both of them. What Gives?

  40. Suzanne says:

    Hey Mike – at least you received something, we haven ‘t received crap and because of that can’t order the forms – we don’t have the number that is needed from the form. If i had the letter and/or form, I would need to order them.

  41. Kenny says:

    Still waiting on my forms in Central Missouri. Never got a card, form ect… I really don’t understand everyone’s issue with filling this form out. If you are a US citizen you should be proud to stand up (ok fill out the form) and be counted. I just want to get my form so I can complete it and I don’t care if it is 10 questions or 100.

  42. ck says:

    I live in a multi building apartment complex and no one here has received their census form. After contacting the Post Office I found out the apartment numbers were omitted from the mailing address so they were returned undeliverable. The notice sent telling us the we would be receiving the census did have the apartment numbers.
    Now what?

  43. Sandy Smith says:

    Whatever this is, it is NOT “a clear sign of ongoing racism.” In fact, I’m sorry to say, it’s more likely a clear sign of historical ignorance.
    For most of the last 150 years, “Negro” was the term black Americans used to refer to THEMSELVES. It remains enshrined in the name of one of the biggest African-American charities, the United Negro College Fund. What we now call Black History Month was established by a black historian as Negro History Week. I could go on, but you get the idea. Many older blacks are still more comfortable with that term than with any of the terms that replaced it; as the Director’s blog noted, in the last Census, these people checked “Other” and wrote in “Negro” on their forms.
    “Negro” has never been a derogatory term. The derogatory term beginning with “N” is a corruption of that word containing two g’s and an i. One more thing: “Negro” is Spanish for “black.” Please tell your friends.

  44. Rhonda says:

    I donot take kindly to speaking to the local census bureau,and them telling me I am expected to pick one up, or discuss personal matters with a stranger. Those are my only options? NOT. First call: 15 minutes, second call, 45 minutes. Ofcourse I’m mad. Do you think I’m going to go all over town to pick up a census? Not going to happen. I work from home,and I’m not cutting out work to go and get a census ,and I’m not answering my door to strangers, either. And i’m not idiot,I’m a full time nurse, who works. think I have all this time to go and get one. no. Send me a replacement, like I asked.

  45. Rhonda says:

    I’d do it if it were online.I do what I’m supposed to do, lazy people, won’t mail me one. And I live in Independence, MO. So they give me a bunch of common places to go and get the census. Expecting me to take off my work to go and get it from a location, cause they didn’t send it to me. wow….they are really stupid. Send me the form, and I’m more than pleased to fill it out.

  46. Rhonda says:

    Me too.I’ve been on the phone with them for 1 hour, trying to get them to understand. I have a census ID, too. They gave me locations to pick one up.I’m not taking time out of my job to go and pick one up, and I’m not answering the door to a stranger, giving him or her our names. stupid this is. And outrageous.

  47. Donna Follin says:

    They need to know what types of housing assistance,housing to be
    built,roads,schools and so on for each area.The information is not given to anyone else for 70 years.I do genealogy and as of late last year we just now were able to see the 1930 census records.Most of the people are dead by now.No one can take out a mortgage in your name because for one your social security number is not on there and the records will not be available till about 2080.But,the information on there cannot be used to get a mortgage in your name without your social security number anyway.

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