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Census Designated Places

Tribal, state, and local governments can submit updates to census designated places (CDPs). CDPs are a statistical geography representing closely settled, unincorporated communities that are locally recognized and identified by name.

The purpose of CDPs is to provide meaningful statistics for well-known, unincorporated communities. The U.S. Census Bureau uses CDPs in the tabulation and presentation of data from the decennial census, the Economic Census, the American Community Survey, and the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program.

Local governments who wish to create or edit a CDP outside of the BAS cycle should email the request to geo.bas@census.gov, including a map and a justification for creating or editing the CDP.

Comparing CDPs and Incorporated Places

Incorporated places are legally incorporated under state law, have a legally defined boundary, and an active functioning governmental structure. Examples of incorporated places include cities, towns, villages, etc.

CDPs are statistical equivalents of incorporated places and represent unincorporated communities that do not have a legally defined boundary or an active, functioning governmental structure. Examples of CDPs include unincorporated communities, planned communities, military installments, university towns, resort towns, etc.

A single location cannot be part of both an incorporated place and a CDP.

Criteria and Guidelines

Census Bureau criteria and guidelines specify that CDPs:

  • Constitute a single, named, contiguous geographic area containing a mix of residential, nonresidential, and commercial uses. Some predominantly residential communities may also be recognized as CDPs.
  • Cannot be partially or entirely within an incorporated place or another CDP.
  • Can be located in more than one county but cannot cross state boundaries.
  • Contain at least some population or housing units. The Census Bureau may request a justification for CDPs delineated with fewer than ten housing units.
  • May not have the same name as an adjacent or nearby incorporated place. Adding a directional to the name to differentiate is not acceptable if that name is not in local use.
  • Can have a name change if the new name provides a better identification of the community.
  • Boundaries should follow visible features such as roads, rivers, railroads, or nonvisible features such as parcel boundaries, adjacent incorporated place boundaries, or other Census Bureau geographies (e.g., school district boundaries, block group boundaries, etc.).

Boundaries of an existing CDP can be adjusted, or a CDP can be deleted if it is no longer relevant. Refer to either the BAS Partnership Toolbox or Geographic Update Partnership Toolbox (GUPS) How-to guide for step-by-step information on delineating new CDPs, editing existing CDP boundaries, and marking existing CDPs for deletion.



Related Information

Page Last Revised - December 14, 2023
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