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Special Census Program

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Cost Estimates

Requesting a Special Census Cost Estimate

The Special Census program is available to all local and tribal governments that need updated population, housing unit, and group quarters counts. To begin the process, a governmental unit must request an official cost estimate from the Census Bureau. Instructions are noted below. The cost estimate will indicate anticipated costs to the governmental unit for staffing, materials, data processing, and tabulation. Included with the cost estimate will be a Memorandum of Agreement. If the governmental unit decides to conduct the Special Census in their community, a signed Memorandum of Agreement and payment must be transmitted to the Census Bureau. Upon receipt, the Special Census process begins.

Cost Estimates for Full or Partial Special Censuses

The Governmental Unit will indicate on the Special Census cost estimate request form whether a full or partial Special Census is being requested. A "full" Special Census means that you want your entire governmental unit, including newly annexed areas, included in the count. For a full Special Census, be sure to include your estimated population and housing unit counts for the entire jurisdiction as of the projected date of enumeration.

A "partial" Special Census means that you want only a portion of your governmental unit included in the count. Partial Special Census cost estimates require that you identify the specific geography you want included in your count, using 2010 Census block and tract numbers. Detailed reference maps showing 2010 Census block boundaries can be accessed at no charge through the Census Bureau's reference map site, located at Once you have identified specific blocks within specific census tracts (within specific counties) on these maps, include those block/tract numbers in the section II area of the Cost Estimate Request Form titled "Characteristics of the Area in Which Special Census is to be conducted". Also, include the estimated population and estimated housing units for the specific blocks you have selected, not the whole jurisdiction.

Special Censuses Conducted Within the Next 12 Months

To request an official cost estimate for a Special Census that will occur within 1 calendar year, please complete the information on the Special Census Cost Estimate Request Form [PDF 326k] and send it via email along with a letter from the highest elected official approving the request. Also, electronically submit your $200 payment by clicking on the Pay Cost Estimate Request Fee link. Contact the Special Census Branch if you are unable to submit your request electronically. Once your request and payment are received by the Special Censuses Branch, a cost estimate and two Memorandums of Agreement will be developed specifically for your jurisdiction and provided to you within 30 days. The cost estimate will be valid for 180 days once issued. A cost estimate that has not been accepted (by signing and returning both the Memorandums of Agreement with payment) within 180 days is subject to revision to take into account any changes in wage rates or other estimated cost changes that may have occurred. If you plan to conduct your Special Census more than 1 year after the cost estimate is prepared, you need to request a revised cost estimate to ensure that anticipated costs are accurate.

Note: The two Memorandums of Agreement are identical. After the Governmental Unit signs both documents, the U.S. Census Bureau will also sign both documents. Both the Governmental Unit and the U.S. Census Bureau will each receive an original Memorandum of Agreement, signed by both parties, for their records.

Special Censuses Anticipated Beyond 1 year

If your governmental unit plans to conduct a Special Census more than 1 calendar year beyond today's date, we would like to hear from you. Please inform the Census Bureau of your interest via email. Include the time frame (mm/dd/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy) you would like the Special Census to occur in your jurisdiction, as well as whom we should contact if more information is needed. There is no processing fee to the governmental unit to provide tentative dates, nor is there any guarantee that proposed dates will be available for a Special Census. Rather, this is a simple mechanism to help the Census Bureau plan for the anticipated Special Censuses to be conducted during the period between years 2013 to 2018.

If you need additional information, please contact Mr. Michael A. Hall or Ms. T.C. Bowser, Special Census Branch, 301-763-1429, or send an e-mail to

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Partnership and Data Services Branch | | Last Revised: December 18, 2012