In March 2010, more than 130 million addresses will receive a 2010 Census form by mail or hand delivery. The 2010 Census will document the changes in our nation since the last decennial census in 2000. The census data will affect how more than $400 billion in federal funding is distributed to state and local governments for the next 10 years.

Below are some of the things the U.S. Census Bureau says about the 2010 Census. We’re including them here to give you a better idea of what you can expect when the form arrives.

  • The 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete. The individual in whose name the housing unit is rented or owned should complete the form on behalf of every person living there, both relatives and nonrelatives.
  • Census data are used to reapportion seats in Congress and ensure proper district representation in state and local governments. Information from the census helps determine locations for childcare and senior centers, new roads, hospitals, schools, law enforcement, and community centers.
  • By law, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

The Census Bureau asks that you complete and mail back the census form in the postage-paid envelope between March 15, 2010, and April 15, 2010. Census workers will visit households that do not return forms to take the count in person.