We’ve officially entered the year of the next U.S. Census — a sweeping, nationwide count of all our country’s residents, young and old.

With its quick, seven-question form, the Census might seem innocuous enough, but its impact on the trajectory of America is huge. Census counts help determine how federal funding is doled out, and even what communities receive in terms of education, infrastructure, healthcare, and more.

And this time around, the Census isn’t just done via snail mail or a real-life Census taker on your front stoop. For the first time ever, you can actually complete your Census form online in just a matter of minutes.

Do you want to do your part and ensure your community is accurately counted? Here’s what you need to know to participate:

  • There are multiple ways to take part. Fill out your form online, by mail, or by phone. If you haven’t responded via one of these routes by May 1, a Census taker may visit your home to complete your form in person.
  • Census Day is officially April 1. You should receive your mailed form by this date. The online form will also go live on Census day. 
  • Both homeowners and renters need to participate. If you’re renting, it’s likely your mailed form will go to your landlord, so plan to fill yours out another way. Online is the easiest, as long as you have WiFi access.
  • Live Census takers will focus on hard-to-reach communities, like people living in large, multi-family units, minority populations, the elderly, and more.
  • There will not be a citizenship question. Despite the rumblings, the citizenship question will not be included on the 2020 Census. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional last summer.
  • The Census Bureau is taking data privacy seriously. Your info won’t be sold or published, and it can’t be used against you by any government agency or court. Census Bureau employees are required to take a lifetime oath to protect personal data.
  • The form will ask seven questions. You’ll need to share the number of people in your household, whether you own or rent your home, the age, race, and gender of each household member, and the relationship of your household members. You will also need to indicate if someone in your home is Hispanic.

To learn more about the U.S. Census, head to 2020Census.gov. That’s also where you’ll go to submit your online form on April 1, so be sure to bookmark the site.