Frequently Asked Questions


Q. How do I respond?

A. You've got options! Online:, via phone: 844-330-2020 or return the paper form.

Q. Do I fill it out for everyone living in my home?

A. Yes! The Census counts us by residence. Everyone who lives with you (family or not) counts! Your responses are anonymous and confidential. Be sure to count everyone...even if they are not "supposed" to be there. 


Q. What is Update Leave?

A. Update Leave refers to a census staff person visiting a housing unit, updating the unit's address to make sure the Bureau has an accurate address for that location, and then leaving a census packet at the doorstep. The packet includes a paper version of the questionnaire, as well as online instructions and a unique ID for online or phone response. 


Areas are designated Update Leave based on their mail delivery method. The Bureau only delivers mail to physical addresses and will not deliver to PO Boxes. If a large percentage of an area does not receive mail at their physical address, the Census Bureau will deem that area Update Leave. Many of our very rural areas and most Reservations are update leave. Click here to view Update Leave map. 


Q. If April 1 was Census Day, why are we still talking about this?

A. April 1 is a reference point. Whether we fill it out early or late, we answer based on where we live most of the time as of April 1. There is still time to respond, so get counted now at!


Q. What about college students who moved away before April 1 due to the Coronavirus?

A. You count where you normally would be living as of April 1. For most students, that is where they go to school. See more about college students below. 


Q. Do roommates all fill out the same form?

A. Yes! Everyone living in a household as of April 1 goes on the same form.


Q. Who should be the #1 person on the form?

A. Anyone can be the #1 person. If someone in the household is American Indian/Alaska Native, consider having them be #1 as it impacts tribal stats & funding.


Q. What if I forgot someone?

A. That person can fill it out themselves. The Census Bureau might call for clarification, but they can reconcile multiple responses from one address.

College Students

Q. Won't my parents count me?

A. You count where you live most of the time. If you live in a dorm or in off campus housing, that's where you should be counted because you live most of the year there.

Q. I moved away because my school closed due to the Coronavirus. Where do I count?

A. You count where you normally would be living as of April 1. If you moved back home because your school closed, that is considered a temporary and unusual displacement. Make sure you get counted where you would have been living under normal circumstances. If you lived in the dorms, you'll still be counted under "group quarters." If you haven't heard from your school about this yet, you should soon. 

Q. Do I count my roommates?

A. Yes! Count everyone in your home.


Q. What if we have shared custody of our kids?

A. Children count where they live most of the time. If it is truly a 50-50 split, then count them at the home where they sleep April 1. 


Q. Do I count a child who I'm caring for, but don't have legal custody of?

A. If that child lives with you most of the time, then yes. It doesn't matter whether you claim them on your taxes or have legal custody.


Q. Does the Department count foster youth?

A. Kids count where they reside as of April 1. If that's with a foster family, then that's where they count.

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Spokane County Complete Count website was inspired by the Washington Nonprofits 2020 Census Action Kit. View toolkit.