In accordance with the law of 27 February 2002 relating to local democracy, the census is carried out by means of annual census surveys, some of which are exhaustive (in municipalities of less than 10,000 inhabitants), while others are conducted by sampling addresses (in municipalities of 10,000 inhabitants or more). The census survey is the act of collecting, each year, the information allowing the census to fulfil the missions required by the law, that is, a count of the population of France and its administrative constituencies, a description of the demographic and social characteristics of the population, and a count and a description of the characteristics of dwellings. The census survey is prepared and carried out either by the municipality or by the public inter-municipality cooperation establishment (EPCI) if the municipality has delegated competence to this entity for this purpose.
The census is placed under the responsibility of the State. The conduct of census surveys is based on a close partnership between the municipalities and INSEE. The municipalities or the public inter-municipality cooperation establishments (EPCI) (EPCI) are required by law to prepare and conduct the census surveys. INSEE is given the task of organising and monitoring the data collection and exploitation, and of disseminating the results.