Frequently Asked Questions: Nonresponse Follow-up

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NRFU FAQ in Other Languages

What is Census Non-response Follow-up (NRFU, or "ner-fu")?

  • Since mid-March, the public has been completing the census online, by mail, or by phone.
  • Non-response follow-up (NRFU) is when census takers visit all the homes that have not yet completed the census.

When does NRFU begin, and when does it end?

  • Nonresponse Follow-up will begin as early as August 6 in New York City.
  • The majority of the operation will begin on August 11, 2020. The Census Bureau's new deadline for NRFU is September 30, 2020.

Why is NRFU starting so late this year?

  • Due to COVID-19, the US Census Bureau has been forced to adjust 2020 Census Operations. The start of NRFU was delayed from mid-May to early August.

Can I still fill out the census even after NRFU starts?

  • Yes, during NRFU, you can still self-respond to the census online at, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by mail.
  • In fact, we encourage all New Yorkers to self-respond NOW.
  • If you respond during NRFU, it is possible you can avoid a knock on your door.

What if I do not want a census taker to come to my home?

  • To reduce the likelihood of a census taker knocking on your door, complete the census online or by phone right away.
  • If you self-respond completely and accurately, it is unlikely that you will get a knock on your door during NRFU.
  • / 844-330-2020

What if I have concerns about speaking to someone in-person due to COVID-19?

  • If you do not want to conduct the interview in person, you can provide the census taker with your phone number to complete it over the phone.
  • Remember that all responses to the census are completely confidential and protected by federal law.
  • The census taker and the Census Bureau cannot share your responses with anyone – not immigration; not the police; not your landlord; not even with the City of New York.

How will census takers make sure that they aren't putting communities at risk of COVID-19?

  • All census takers complete a COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods. Specifically, census takers will be trained to:
    • Always wear a mask
    • Never enter your home
    • Stay 6 feet away when conducting interviews
    • Follow healthy hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing
    • They will all be given hand sanitizer
    • They will stay home from work if they feel sick

What if the census taker does not speak my household's language?

  • If the census taker does not speak your language, you can request a return visit from a census taker who does.
  • Census takers will also have materials on hand to help identify the household's language.
    • For example, you will be able to point to a language on a card that allows the census-taker to determine which language you speak.
  • Language guides and videos are available online in 59 non-English languages including American Sign Language and braille and large print to assist in completing the 2020 Census.
  • The Census Questionnaire Assistance centers have staff available to assist in 13 languages.

How do I identify a U.S. Census Bureau worker?

  • If a census taker visits your home, first check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.
  • If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 212-882-7100 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.
  • You reduce the likelihood of having a census taker visit your home if you self-respond to the census completely and accurately.
  • Follow these links to learn more about census takers and how they can be identified.

Are there certain questions census takers aren't supposed to ask?

  • Census takers will never ask about:
    • Immigration status or a citizenship question
    • Your Driver's License or State ID
    • Your Social Security or ITIN Number
    • Your bank account or credit card numbers
    • Anything on behalf of a political party
    • Money or donations
  • If you think someone approached you and is not a real census taker, please report this to the multilingual New York State Office of New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Is it safe to speak to the census taker if I'm not documented?

  • This is no problem at all. The census does not ask about your immigration status or any question about citizenship.
  • Your answers cannot be shared with immigration authorities, the police, or any other law enforcement agency, as they are protected by federal law.

How do I know a census taker will keep my information safe?

  • Census takers will keep your information safe.
  • Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect the confidentiality of your information, under federal law.
  • If they violate Title 13, they face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Where do census takers come from?

  • Census takers are New Yorkers. They are hired from local communities and often serve as census takers in those same communities. Your census taker might live just a few blocks away from you or might even be your neighbor.

How will I know whether a census taker stopped by my home if I am away or at work?

  • If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail.
  • You can call 212-882-7100 to verify the employment status of a census taker.

What happens if I do not fully answer a census taker's question or skip certain questions altogether? Will there be some sort of follow up from another census taker?

  • The Census Bureau encourages the household to complete the questionnaire in its entirety. If you do not know the answer or would like to skip certain questions, the census taker will still continue the interview.
  • Answering address, name, and the number of people in your household is absolutely required.
  • In addition, the Census Bureau determines the minimum number of questions that must be answered in order for the form to be considered "complete."
  • The more questions you answer, the less likely it is that someone will come knock on your door.
  • Please note that the gender question can be skipped.
  • During the interview, census takers will collect information for all people living in the housing unit. The household list is created at the beginning of the interview and will ask you to report everyone living or staying at the housing unit. Census takers are not able to divide out separate families.
  • The Census Bureau encourages the respondent to provide information for all individuals living within the housing unit. If the person responding is unwilling or unable to provide information about a second family, that other family would also need to self-respond online, by phone, or by mail to make sure they are counted.

Can my child (under 18 years old) serve as a translator if my census taker does not speak my native language? Or will another census taker have to return to that address to collect my responses?

  • Yes, a child can serve as a translator for their parent. If no one is available to help translate and there is a language barrier, the census taker will indicate the need for a specific language for the household and transfer the case to an appropriate bilingual census taker.

If I left NYC due to COVID and filled out my census from a non-NYC address, how can I change my responses and show that I actually live in NYC?

  • You cannot amend or change a submitted census response. If you completed the census at a different location but your primary place of living is located in NYC, you will need to complete the Census again for the household where you usually spend most of your time (as of April 1, 2020).
  • People can submit multiple responses. The Census Bureau has deduplication processes to ensure they do not double count people.
  • The Census Bureau still needs a completed response for both housing units, regardless of occupancy status. This generally applies to seasonal vacant homes. The Census Bureau developed a flyer to help explain this process in greater detail.

How many times will a census taker come to my home? How frequently will they show up?

  • Census takers will try and make contact several times when respondents are most likely to be home. They need to obtain a response for every housing unit.
  • After a housing unit has completed the census, there may be additional visits to ensure the quality of data collected.
  • Visits could happen during nights and weekends.

What happens if I do not respond to any of the census takers solicitations? Will the census bureau still be able to get my information?

  • Census takers may be able to get information by proxy, meaning that they may ask your neighbors for your household composition and information.
  • However, this is a last resort effort and may not be as accurate as information received from the intended respondent.
    • It is estimated that 15 percent of the population "disappears" during this process, which is called imputation. That means that the funding your grandfather or your child deserves may not come to your neighborhood if the census is not completed properly. Remember that the census determines $1.5 trillion dollars in federal funding for schools, hospitals, and senior centers.
  • In addition, the Census Bureau may need to rely on administrative records for a non-responding housing unit.

Can I speak with the census taker through the door?

  • This is possible, but you may want to consider leaving the door slightly open so that the volume of the conversation does not compromise the privacy of the interview. Census takers will have Census identification and will be wearing a mask.
  • You can also request to complete the interview in a different location, including outside.
  • As a reminder, you can complete your census form online or over the phone.

Will the census bureau be contacting my property manager before census takers come?

  • When possible and necessary, census takers will contact property managers before or as they are conducting interviews. Their goal is to reach every housing unit and take the census directly from the member of the housing unit.

Will multiple census takers be sent to one building?

  • Yes.

How will my doorman know to let the census taker in?

  • All Census employees wear valid Census identification.

What about basement apartments? How do census takers know how to get through, particularly illegally subdivided units?

  • Census takers are trained to find all possible housing units at every address. It does not matter whether an apartment is legal or not, who is on the lease, or anything else -- all that matters is if people live there.

Will census takers follow my building's rules? My building may require the census taker to meet with people in the lobby or a common area and might not allow the census taker to roam freely throughout the building.

  • Census takers will adhere to state and local health guidance. Census takers will always wear a mask. They will attempt to follow building rules that are in place.

How is NYCHA planning to deal with census takers? What guidance is NYCHA giving property managers, tenant leaders, and tenants?

  • NYCHA is making sure all stakeholders have the information they need to cooperate with the 2020 Census. Property managers, tenant leaders, and tenants are being advised of the timeline for NRFU, what engagement is required of them, how the Census Bureau is ensuring safety during COVID-19, and how to avoid scams. Property Managers are being advised to adhere to Title 12, United States Code §223.
  • Since the Fall of 2019, NYCHA began educating tenants about completing the Census online or via phone through a series of efforts including teach-ins, a mailing to all households, newsletters, social media, and civic engagement through tenant leaders. NYCHA will continue to encourage online completion as the safest means for participating in the 2020 Census in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can you provide a photo of what a census takers badge looks like for educational purposes?

  • The Census Bureau does not share the census taker's valid identification with image with outside groups due security considerations.
  • However, census takers will carry identification that includes their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
  • You can also call 212-882-7100 to check on the employee's current employment status.

What is the phone number that New Yorkers should call to verify that a door knocker is indeed a census taker?

  • First check and see if they are wearing their valid Census identification. Then call this number: 212-882-7100 to check on the employee's current employment status.

Will there be a count of people experiencing homelessness who live outside of shelter? Will this commence on September 22?

  • The Census Bureau's Service Based Enumeration operation is from September 22 to September 24.

Will survey responses collected by census takers count towards NYC's "self-response" rate despite the census takers' involvement?

  • Interview responses collected by census takers will count toward NYC's population count but will not count towards the self-response rate.

Can you provide a copy of the notes census takers will leave behind in case they cannot reach a household?

Will most census takers be from New York City?

  • Yes, most Census takers working in NYC live in NYC.

How can I register a concern about a census taker?

  • If you would like to register a complaint or raise a concern about a census taker, you may do so by calling the U.S. Census Bureau's New York Regional Census Center at 212-882-7100.