2020 Census forms are set to arrive this week and next in Grand Forks

Invitations to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census are en route to mailboxes across the country. Check out sample copies of them at the bottom of this article.

United States Census 2020
United States Census 2020 logo from

The 2020 U.S. Census is set to get underway this week.

For people across the United States, that means invitations to fill it out are set to arrive between Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 20. Two versions of those invitations are set to arrive in Grand Forks residents’ mailboxes: the first contains instructions for filling out the Census online or via phone, and the second contains those same instructions, plus a paper copy of the questionnaire that residents can mail back once they’ve completed it.

The feds send out the invitations with paper copies to areas with “lower expected internet usage,” a large population of people older than 65, or those that haven’t responded much to the U.S. Census Bureau’s more annual American Community Surveys.

Post office boxes are also set to receive paper copies, and households that don’t respond to the first invitation or two would also be in line for one. Census takers are set to follow up with households that don’t respond to any of those entreaties.

In the Grand Cities area, that means most households will receive the “internet first” invitation in English, according to a map put together by Census administrators. That will also be the case for about 72% of households across the United States.


The area immediately outside of East Grand Forks, though, will receive the “internet choice” in English, which means it will include a paper copy. About 18% of households in the United States will receive the same, and about 9% of households, countrywide, are in line for an invitation of either variety in English and Spanish.

A Census representative was unsure how the bureau determines areas with low internet usage or how granular the bureau’s map of different areas is.

The letter that goes out to residents declares in English and Spanish that responses are “required by law.” That is true, and the penalty for failing to fill out the census can be as high as $5,000. Intentionally providing false information on a census form could cost as much as $10,000 – but prosecutions are apparently rare.

“We are not a prosecuting agency,” said Mark Dickerson, a Census media specialist. “It’s just not what we do.”

Civic leaders have stressed the importance of the Census, which federal agencies use to determine funding levels for a bevy of programs. Census results also help determine the number of seats each state has in Congress.

Here are informational copies of the “internet first” invitation, "language assistance sheet," and envelope Americans are set to receive this week and next, plus the Census questionnaire itself:


Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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