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This section answers the most frequently asked questions about the Business and Professional Classification Survey. Other sections answer additional questions about survey coverage, if you don't find answers to all your survey questions, please contact staff.

Questions and Answers - by Category


1. What is the Business and Professional Classification Survey?

The Business and Professional Classification Survey collects information from businesses with newly assigned or reactivated Federal Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) or recently added to scope of the Census Bureau’s business data. This information will be used to ensure our survey programs account for new businesses in measuring economic activity in the retail, wholesale, and service sectors.

2. Is the survey mandatory?

Yes, your response is required by law. Title 13, United States Code, Sections 131, 182, and 193, authorizes this collection. Sections 224 and 225 require your response. The U.S. Census Bureau is required by Section 9 of the same law to keep your information confidential and use your responses only to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify your business, organization, or institution. Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, your data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit your data.

3. What is the penalty for not responding?

Title 13 (Section 224) and the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (18, U.S.C. 3559 and 3571) allow for possible prosecution of responsible officials and penalties up to $5,000 (and a response is still required). 

4. What is the purpose of this survey?

The purpose of this survey is to assign a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code to businesses in order to update the sampling frame for current business survey, and also to assist in ensuring the proper five-year Economic Census survey is mailed to those business establishments. Title 13 U.S.C., authorizes this survey and require mandatory responses.

5. My firm is no longer in business. What should I do?

Complete the survey for the last two months that the company was in operation. We also need the date that the company went out of business. If you sold your business, record the following in the Remarks section:

  • The name, address and telephone number of the company that purchased it
  • The date of sale

Survey Completion

6. About how long will it take to complete this survey?

We estimate that it will take an average of 13 minutes to complete the Business and Professional Classification Survey. This includes time to read instructions, assemble and review information, and record answers.

7. Are estimates acceptable?

Yes, carefully prepared estimates are acceptable if book figures are not readily available.

8. Why do you need to know if I own other companies or if another company owns my firm?

We do not want to duplicate data if you are affiliated with other companies that may already be in one of our surveys.

9. I have more than one business location; should I answer the questions for all of our business locations, or just the one indicated in the label area?

Complete the survey for all business establishments operating under the EIN shown on the main menu after login. Please be sure to complete the location detail section of the survey for all locations associated with the EIN.

10. What if I am a nonprofit organization?

You must still submit your survey to the Census Bureau. Nonprofit organizations are covered in the Business and Classification Survey. Coverage is based on what primary activity an establishment performs. Coverage is not affected by an organization's profit objectives, ownership, tax status, or other organizational characteristics.

11. I have completed my survey. Why have I received another just like it?

We send follow-up request when the deadline passes. If you have completed your survey, please disregard this letter and accept our thanks for completing this very important survey.

Sample Selection

12. How was I selected for the survey?

This survey covers firms or establishments with Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) that are newly assigned or recently reactivated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or recently added to scope of the Census Bureau’s business data. From this universe, a stratified sampling procedure is used to sample approximately 14,000 firms or establishments. Strata are based on NAICS codes and quarterly payroll.

13. How long will I be in the survey?

Firms or establishments that are selected to be a part of the survey will only be contacted once and will report 2 months of data for the Business and Professional Classification Survey.

14. I am a very small business. Why do you want information from me?

Taken together, small businesses have a real impact on the economy. Your firm was chosen from a scientifically selected sample of businesses and represents many other small businesses like yours.

15. This is not a new business how was I selected for this survey?

To ensure our survey programs account for businesses in measuring economic activity select industries that were previously excluded from the scope of business data collection were recently added to the scope of the Census Bureau’s business data collection.

Page Last Revised - April 27, 2022
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