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Apply for Access to Restricted-Use Census Bureau Microdata

Apply for Access to Restricted-Use Census Bureau Microdata

The Census Bureau considers proposals from qualified researchers in social science disciplines consistent with the subject matter of the surveys and censuses collected by the Census Bureau. All researcher access to restricted–use data occurs at secure Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDC).

Proposed projects must:

Restricted-Use Data

The Census Bureau maintains and enhances confidential Census Bureau microdata for use in social science research at FSRDCs. A comprehensive catalog of Census Bureau microdata is available via the Standard Application Process (SAP) Portal (see below for a description of the SAP).

Developing a Research Proposal

Before preparing your research proposal, consult

  • The FSRDC administrator at the location where you want to base your project regarding access fees and the content and form of a proposal. Assistance from an FSRDC administrator will greatly reduce the need for future revisions to your application. If you are unsure which FSRDC to contact or have a general question, please reach out to the Census Bureau at ced.fsrdc.info@census.gov.
  • Research Proposal GuidelinesPDF  (<1.0 MB)
  • The IRS Criteria Document PDF (3.7 MB), which describes the criteria that the Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will apply in reviewing and approving projects that request the use of Federal Tax Information (FTI). Most Census Bureau data on businesses, and some data about households and individuals, contain FTI.

Submitting a Research Proposal

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 calls for the Federal government to establish a standard application process (SAP) through which agencies, the Congressional Budget Office, State, local, and Tribal governments, researchers, and other individuals, as appropriate, may apply for access to confidential microdata. In response, the federal statistical system is developing the SAP Portal at www.ResearchDataGov.org. The SAP Portal is a web-based data catalog (including comprehensive metadata) and common application that will serve as a “front door” to apply for confidential data from any of the 16 principal federal statistical agencies and units for evidence building purposes. To learn more about the SAP, please visit the Standard Application Process Overview webpage. On December 8, 2022, the SAP Portal began accepting applications to access confidential microdata.  

Existing applications in process or under review will continue to be reviewed under the pre-SAP portal process. Users with questions about arrangements for use of restricted-use data should contact the Census Bureau directly at ced.fsrdc.info@census.gov.


Page Last Revised - May 25, 2023
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