How To Complete The Census

Year-End Testing Census Walkthrough Video

How Do I Submit a Year-End Census?

To submit the year-end census to Vestwell, you have two choices:

Option 1 - Review & Approve Pre-populated Census.

Option 2 - Upload Your Own Census.

Option 1 - Review & Approve Pre-populated Census

When you click Submit Year-End Census, you will automatically be brought to the pre-populated census grid. The grid will be pre-populated with your current active employees plus any employee who has terminated in the current plan year. Make sure to scroll to the right to see all the pre-populated columns. Within this grid, you can review the census information, add any missing information, and edit existing information.

Please note:

  • You will not be able to remove any employees who are already on the census grid.
  • The census grid is based on the payroll records submitted to Vestwell throughout the year. Our information is only as good as the information provided to us; you must review it thoroughly!
  • If any information is missing or not in the correct format, it will appear in Red, indicating that it needs to be corrected before submission.
  • You must scroll all the way across the page to be able to submit your census.

Option 2 - Upload Your Own Census

If you prefer to upload your own year-end census, click Upload in the upper right-hand corner of the census grid page. You will be asked to choose a file from your computer. In order for our system to accept your file, it must have the appropriate column headers and be void of any erroneous punctuation. You can use the Template census provided on the "Submit Year End Census" page under download. Please ensure not to change any column headers noted in the "How To Format Your Census File For Uploads" article.

Where do I get a year-end census?

You should be able to export a year-end census report from your payroll provider. Alternatively, you can use the template on the "Submit Year End Census" page. 

  • Please note if you converted to Vestwell during the year, your information will only populate from the beginning of your time with Vestwell. This information should contain the whole year from Jan. 1st - Dec. 31st.

  • In most cases, you should be able to export all or most of the required data as a report from your payroll system. The right-hand side of the census upload page shows all required data items. Check out the “How to format the Census if uploading“ article for more information on the required data items.

The report from my payroll system does not include all of the required data items. What should I do?

In that situation, you may have to add the data to the report yourself, either copying and pasting it from a separate file or report or by typing it in manually.

I'm not sure what data to put into each column or what format to put it in.

Check out the “How to format the Census if uploading“ article in the Help Center. It has a list of all the possible data items you may be asked to include, an explanation of what they are, and the format they are required to be in.

What time period should the data on the year-end census cover?

For the 2023 plan year, you should provide data for Jan. 1st, 2023 - Dec. 31st, 2023. The exception is for the "Prior Year Gross Compensation" column, which should cover the total gross salary earned from Jan. 1st, 2022 - Dec. 31st, 2022.

Who should be included in the year-end census?

All employees who received wages during the plan year must be included.

Which compensation should I use?

Generally, provide the compensation found in Box 1 of the W-2, adding back any deferrals of pay (pre-tax 401(k), cafeteria plan deductions, etc.). However, your plan document defines the type of compensation and if there are any exclusions to account for. You may refer to your plan document for this or email us at

I have a payroll that spans two plan years. What should I do?

Only include compensation that was actually paid during the plan year and is on the W-2 for that year. For example, if you have a payroll period that spans 2 years (Dec. 27th, 2023 - Jan. 07, 2024), only the compensation paid in the 2023 year should be included.

I uploaded my year-end census, but I cannot submit it. What is the problem?

The most likely issue is that the required data item either was not included or was not recognized. There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot this:

  • Double-check that the required data item is included in your year-end census in the correct format. Missing data items will have an error indicator next to them on the census upload page.
  • Double-check if there are any Validations flags; Missing Date of Birth, Hire Date, Gross Compensation, Prior Year Gross Compensation, Contributions without Compensation. Incorrect Format, if the value is not a numeric format, bad characters i.e. #, $, %, etc.
  • If the data item is in your file, we might not be able to recognize it. Instead, try changing the name of the column in your file so that it exactly matches the data item that appears as missing in the list of data items on the right side of the census upload page. For example, if your file includes a column titled "Social," where you have included your employees' social security numbers, try changing it to "SSN" and uploading your census again.
  • If this does not resolve the issue, contact for support.