Census Day is here: How to fill out the 2020 Census online

With all of the attention the coronavirus outbreak has been getting lately, it's been pretty easy to forget that it's a Census year here in the United States. Moreover, today is Census Day, but while that may suggest that this is a deadline for filling out the Census, it actually isn't. April 1st is designated as Census Day because this is the date that the Census references – meaning residents are asked to declare where they live as of April 1st, 2020.

Even though today isn't a deadline, it still isn't a bad idea to treat it as such. Beginning toward the end of May (May 27th to be specific), Census takers will be going door-to-door to interview homes that haven't filled out the Census to make sure they're counted. Federal and state governments want to make sure that as few residents as possible fall through the cracks, so if you don't want a visit from a Census taker over the summer, it's best to respond to the Census now. In these times of coronavirus and social-distancing, that's all the more important.

As always, you can respond to the Census by mail or by phone, but for most people, the easiest way to fill out the Census form is online, which is new for the Census in 2020. There's a chance that you've already received a notification in the mail that prompts you to go online and fill out the Census. If you have, just follow the directions listed on that postcard to fill out the Census online.

You don't need to wait for that card to arrive in the mail though – you can head over to the Census website and fill out the form right now. The process takes about 10 minutes (though it didn't take me quite that long), but an important thing to note is that you need to complete the form in one sitting; if you close the window before you've submitted the form, you'll need to start over from the beginning.

The Census is important primarily because it's used to determine state funding, but also because it determines how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. With that in mind, expect state governments especially to ramp up efforts to get people to respond to the Census in the coming weeks and months.