Official State of Iowa Website

Special Censuses

A special census is a basic enumeration of population, housing units, and group quarters for a jurisdiction or part of a jurisdiction in between census years. In Iowa, special census counts can be used for official state purposes, including the allocation of funds based on population.


Only an appropriate local government may authorize the Census Bureau to conduct a special census. For example, a citywide census must have the approval of the governing board of the city. A local government can, however, contract to have a census taken for less than the entire jurisdiction.


The Census Bureau conducts special censuses under reimbursable agreements. The local government agrees to pay all necessary expenses of the special census.

Scheduling a Special Census

After the local government and the Census Bureau have a signed agreement for a special census and payment is received by the Census Bureau, the Census Bureau sends area maps to the local government for updating.

  • Generally the special census is scheduled within three to four months after the maps are returned.
  • Normally, the certified counts are available approximately four months after completion of the enumeration.

Local Government Responsibilities

  • Pay for the special census
  • Update area maps
  • Provide suitable office space equipped with furniture, telephones, and other equipment necessary for the successful completion of the census
  • Recruit qualified persons as enumerators in the special census area.

Census Bureau Responsibilities

  • Provide an enumeration supervisor who will manage the special census and supervise the enumerators
  • Provide standard tabulations of characteristics of persons and housing units.

Certification of Results

After receiving the certified special census count from the Census Bureau, the local government must in turn certify the count to the Iowa secretary of state and treasurer of state. After the counts have been certified to state officials they can be used to allocate state funds based on population.

More Information

For more information, see: