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2020 Census: Conducting and Motivating the Count: Counting People at Transitory Locations

The 2020 Census had a special process for counting people who were living or staying at a campground, an RV park, a hotel, or another transitory location.

Transitory Locations

What Are Transitory Locations?

A transitory location is a place people are unlikely to live year-round. Transitory locations include campgrounds, RV parks, marinas, hotels, motels, racetracks, circuses, and carnivals. Each transitory location has multiple transitory units, which can be rooms in a lodging facility or spaces where a tent, boat, RV, or other structure may be parked or located.

An occupied transitory unit is considered a housing unit if there is at least one person who usually resides there. If no one is staying at a transitory unit, that transitory unit is considered unoccupied and is not marked as a living quarters. Similarly, a transitory unit is not tabulated as a housing unit if all people staying there report a usual home elsewhere. Anyone who reports a usual home elsewhere should be counted at that home.

Types of Transitory Locations


An area set aside primarily for people to camp (e.g., in a tent, cabin, or camping trailer). Campgrounds often charge a fee and sometimes provide modest amenities. This category includes both public campgrounds (e.g., in national, state, or local parks or recreation areas) and private campgrounds (e.g., KOA campgrounds, religious campgrounds, hunting camps, and self-improvement camps).

Recreational Vehicle (RV) Park

An area set aside primarily for people temporarily parking and occupying RVs (also referred to as travel trailers or camping trailers). RV parks rent out spaces (with or without hook-ups for basic utilities) to people parking RVs, typically on a short-term (daily, weekly, or monthly) basis. RVs are often on wheels while people live or stay in them; they are not permanent structures, as they could easily be driven or towed away. This category includes both public and private RV parks.


A dock or basin where small commercial or private vessels, such as boats or yachts, can be securely moored or parked; some people may make these vessels their primary residence. Marinas may offer supplies, repairs, and other services and amenities. A marina may stand alone or be part of a resort, and it may be owned and operated by a public entity (e.g., municipal facility) or a private company or club (e.g., yacht club).

Hotel or Motel

A lodging facility that some people may use as long-term or permanent housing. In addition to hotels and motels, this category includes hostels, single-room occupancy units, inns, resorts, lodges, and bed-and-breakfast establishments. Units within these lodging facilities may be single rooms, suites, cabins, cabanas, cottages, or bungalows. In addition, organizations such as the YMCA and YWCA may offer lodging, along with other services, at their facilities.


A facility used for racing automobiles, motorcycles, horses, or dogs where traveling workers may reside in temporary quarters, such as tents, buses, or RVs. This category includes both commercial and private racetracks.

Circus or Carnival

A traveling show or amusement enterprise such as a circus, carnival, fair where the performers and workers of which may reside on-site in temporary quarters, such as tents, buses, or RVs.

How Are People in Transitory Locations Counted?

The Enumeration at Transitory Locations operation consisted of two phases: Transitory Locations Advance Contact and Enumeration at Transitory Locations.

During the Transitory Locations Advance Contact phase, Census Bureau workers prepared for enumeration. Between July 20 and August 7, 2020, area census office staff members called an administrator at each transitory location to indicate that census takers would visit, explained the enumeration process, and collected information about the location. If the area census office staff member was unable to make contact by phone, a staff member visited the location and spoke to the managers or representatives to set up an appointment. The Transitory Locations Advance Contact operation set the stage for a successful count of transitory locations with minimal disruption to occupants.

The Enumeration at Transitory Locations operation occurred after Transitory Locations Advance Contact, from September 3 to September 28, 2020. Census takers visited each transitory location at a scheduled time between September 3 and September 28, 2020, to conduct interviews with individuals in occupied units using a paper questionnaire.

Additional Resources

2020 Census: Counting People in Group Living Arrangements
The Census Bureau had a special process for counting people living or staying in a group living arrangement, also known as group quarter.

2020 Census: Counting People at Service-Based Locations
Service-Based Enumeration provided an opportunity for people without conventional housing and people who may be experiencing homelessness to be counted.

Fact Sheet
How the 2020 Census Counts People Experiencing Homelessness
People experiencing homelessness live in a variety of situations, such as temporarily staying with family or friends, living outside or living at a shelter.

Fact Sheet
2020 Census: Counting College Students
Whether you live on or off campus or at home with family, you need to be counted in the 2020 Census.

2020 Census: What College Students Need to Know to Be Counted in the Right Place

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People in Transitory Living Situations To Be Counted in 2020 Census
The U.S. Census Bureau has a plan to count people without permanent addresses, including sending 14,000 workers to campgrounds, RV parks, hotels and marinas.

Fact Sheet
How We Count: Military Members, Veterans, and Their Families
Responses to the 2020 Census help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding is distributed to local communities.

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Counting All Military Service Members and Their Families in 2020
Active duty military, veterans and their families are a vital part of community life and need to be counted in the 2020 Census.

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On, Off Campus or With Parents, College Students Count in 2020 Census
Where should college students be counted when they live away from home? Where they are living on April 1, 2020 – not at their parents’ home.

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Counting People in Rural and Remote Locations
The U.S. Census Bureau takes a number of measures to count people living in rural and remote areas during the 2020 Census.

Page Last Revised - January 26, 2022
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