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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

Submitting a Research Proposal

The application process for requesting access to restricted-use Census Bureau data in the FSRDCs is evolving. 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 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.

The SAP Portal is being developed in a phased approach. On February 28, 2022, the federal statistical agencies launched the SAP Portal data catalog to provide prospective applicants with comprehensive metadata about federal statistical agencies’ confidential microdata. In late 2022, the SAP Portal will begin accepting applications to access confidential microdata.

Until the SAP Portal common application is available, researchers interested in using Census Bureau restricted-use datasets should follow the procedures outlined above in the section titled “Developing a Research Proposal.”

Beginning in late 2022, the Census Bureau and the other principal federal statistical agencies and units will begin transitioning applications to the SAP Portal. The timeframe for transitioning applications to the SAP Portal is as follows:

  • Prior to December 31, 2022 – Use the Census Bureau’s current application process described above.
  • December 31, 2022 - February 1, 2023 – The Census Bureau will accept applications for access to restricted-use Census Bureau data in the FSRDCs using the current application process described above or the SAP Portal common application.
  • February 1, 2023 – All applications requesting access to Census Bureau restricted data in the FSRDCs should be submitted through the SAP Portal common application. 

To learn more about the SAP, please visit the Standard Application Process Overview webpage. 

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