This relates to British citizens living abroad statistics from 1990 to 2017. And also provides the details of immigrants living in the UK by country of origin. Moreover, the post also tries to answer: how long British Citizen can stay outside the UK in the light of the British Nationality Act 1981 and immigration rules.

How Many British Citizens are Living Abroad?

During 1990 to 2017, the number of British citizens living abroad has increased from 3.79 m to 4.92 m. In fact, the most popular destination for Brits choosing to emigrate is Oceania as 33% of all British-born emigrants in 2017 are living in Australia or New Zealand. Moreover,  28% of British citizens are living abroad in US or Canada and 26% in the EU – of which 6% lived in Ireland. Furthermore, 69% of British citizens living in the EU are in Spain, France or Germany in 2017.

How long British Citizen can stay outside the UK?

Perhaps, a short answer is that Section 40 of the British Citizenship Act 1981 does not indicate any reason for depriving British Citizenship for any length of stay abroad. Therefore, British Citizenship can live in another country as long as he/she may deem appropriate. However, this could be misleading if we don’t try to understand the issues pertaining to purpose and permission of staying in another country.

How long a British Citizen can live in the EU?

The immigration status of Citizens is on a reciprocal basis. For instance, Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) on Jan 1, 1973. Accordingly, both the EEC (i.e. now EU) nationals and British nationals enjoyed the right of free movement, which may definitely change on and after March 29, 2019, due to BREXIT.

The free movement enables a British Citizen to live in EU without restrictions. Therefore, a British Citizen can live outside the UK in the EU as long as he/she deems necessary. However, even this free movement requires certain documentation. For instance, EEA or Swiss nationals intending to stay in Austria do not require any authorization. However, if EEA or a Swiss national intend to stay in Austria for more than three months, then needs to apply for ‘registration certificate’ within four months from entry into Austria. 

How long a British Citizen can live in non-EU countries?

A reciprocal arrangement of UK also exists with non-visa nations such as the US, Canada etc. This arrangement has a limited scope and applies in the case for a temporary visit up to 180 days per visits. However, the purpose of such visits is only tourism, meeting family or attending business meetings etc. One can’t work or do business without specific permission. Since Britain allows Non-Visa Nationals a permission to STAY (not LIVE) in the UK for up to 180 days and the arrangement are on a reciprocal basis, therefore, British Citizens may also be allowed to STAY in those countries for up to 180 days. However, if a British Citizen migrates to a non-visa country then needs to abide by the immigration rules of that country- and may remain outside the UK as per the immigration rules of that country.

British Citizens Living Abroad in 1990 and 2017

Year 1990 2017
Australia 1,111,203 1,351,846
United States of America 640,145 748,206
Canada 688,691 624,411
Spain 61,463 308,872
Ireland 184,671 278,040
New Zealand 227,889 272,071
France 102,335 188,161
South Africa 117,362 123,764
Germany 103,961 103,700
Italy 59,492 72,234
Channel Islands 54,519 59,939
Netherlands 36,211 53,007
Switzerland 22,512 49,847
Isle of Man 30,510 39,614
Cyprus 9,055 39,497
Poland 3,732 36,186
Bangladesh 9,090 34,266
Indonesia 20,883 32,026
Belgium 21,480 28,234
United Arab Emirates 12,229 27,840
Sweden 11,473 25,558
Turkey 6,483 22,442
Israel 14,958 21,329
Denmark 9,126 21,286
Norway 14,586 20,827
Chile 1,428 18,901
Portugal 6,866 18,709
China, Hong Kong SAR 11,838 17,942
Greece 34,223 17,358
Japan 10,209 16,990
Malta 5,333 12,928
Austria 6,067 12,127
Oman 4,260 10,464
Kuwait 10,010 10,237
Malaysia 3,433 10,049
Hungary 521 9,392
China 4,737 9,308
Botswana 3,289 8,561
Bulgaria 59 8,025
Zimbabwe 19,136 7,560
Libya 8,712 7,393
Finland 1,738 7,055
Luxembourg 2,355 6,946
Romania 273 6,870
Brazil 3,849 6,061
Gibraltar 3,025 5,717
Slovakia 34 5,083
India 5,063 4,817
Republic of Korea 559 4,810
Jamaica 5,469 4,772
Philippines 6,028 4,416
Czechia 351 4,206
Bermuda 4,590 4,024
Qatar 2,886 3,917
Mexico 2,273 3,447
Lithuania 281 3,026
Egypt 3,051 2,961
Barbados 2,988 2,522
Trinidad and Tobago 2,157 2,383
Ecuador 719 2,222
Brunei Darussalam 1,996 2,172
Thailand 21 2,128
Panama 319 2,082
Bahamas 1,964 2,077
Cayman Islands 1,049 1,995
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 1,881 1,831
Uganda 1,071 1,754
Russian Federation 899 1,742
Bahrain 1,614 1,700
Papua New Guinea 2,192 1,700
Peru 1,185 1,699
Namibia 2,540 1,594
Malawi 769 1,486
Iceland 647 1,443
Ghana 972 1,399
Zambia 1,987 1,348
Colombia 991 1,322
United Republic of Tanzania 682 1,264
Morocco 828 1,243
Sri Lanka 48 1,193
Viet Nam 256 1,169
Latvia 117 1,111
Antigua and Barbuda 623 1,013
Saint Lucia 405 980
Argentina 2,391 978
Andorra 1,043 963
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 580 939
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 664 876
British Virgin Islands 440 834
Jordan 465 814
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 682 798
Algeria 2,060 793
Croatia 182 652
Serbia 79 642
Dominica 230 638
Sierra Leone 611 585
Guyana 131 579
Costa Rica 451 522
Dominican Republic 581 492
Estonia 31 463
Belarus 340 459
Uruguay 535 458
Mauritius 694 456
Turks and Caicos Islands 246 449
Belize 306 442
Anguilla 197 426
Guadeloupe 166 420
Saint Helena 274 398
Fiji 759 344
Tajikistan 477 322
Dem. People’s Republic of Korea 188 307
Seychelles 274 293
Cameroon .. 276
Guatemala 125 232
Liberia 1,146 227
Lebanon 212 208
Paraguay 140 178
Puerto Rico 336 168
Martinique 67 152
Vanuatu 239 109
Maldives 94 107
Montser rat 156 106
Faeroe Islands 139 103
Honduras 78 103
Cook Islands 49 96
Cambodia 43 94
El Salvador 135 90
Mongolia 65 89
Montenegro .. 88
French Polynesia 76 85
Liechtenstein 27 72
Nicaragua 46 72
Caribbean Netherlands 50 57
Eritrea 34 56
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) .. 54
Cabo Verde 14 53
Cuba 110 46
Solomon Islands 85 38
Bhutan 17 36
Georgia .. 33
Samoa 47 26
Curaçao .. 24
Greenland 32 15
Slovenia 75 12
Kiribati 23 8
Guinea .. 7
British Citizens Living Abroad 3,795,662 4,921,309

Foreign Nationals Living in the UK

During 1990-2017, the number of foreign nationals living in the UK has increased from 3.65 m to 8.84 m. Accordingly, the percentage of migrants in the UK population has nearly doubled from 6.38% to 13.36%.

Year Migrants UK Pop. %
1990 3,650,286 57,183,331 6.38%
1995 4,155,293 57,978,321 7.17%
2000 4,730,165 58,950,847 8.02%
2005 5,926,156 60,286,754 9.83%
2010 7,604,583 63,306,843 12.01%
2015 8,411,021 65,397,080 12.86%
2017 8,841,717 66,181,585 13.36%

Foreign Migrants in the UK by Country of Origin

Apparently, in 2017, as many as 8.84 m foreign nationals were living in the UK. And Polish, Indian, Pakistani, Irish and German nationals top the list of foreign nationals living in the UK.

Country Total %
Poland 874,291 9.89%
India 836,524 9.46%
Pakistan 529,324 5.99%
Ireland 402,089 4.55%
Germany 300,983 3.40%
Romania 231,358 2.62%
Bangladesh 228,353 2.58%
South Africa 210,470 2.38%
Nigeria 209,417 2.37%
China 207,278 2.34%
United States of America 190,491 2.15%
Italy 170,454 1.93%
France 160,991 1.82%
Lithuania 158,854 1.80%
Portugal 147,271 1.67%
Jamaica 144,196 1.63%
Kenya 141,020 1.59%
Philippines 138,905 1.57%
Sri Lanka 138,904 1.57%
Australia 131,542 1.49%
Spain 131,496 1.49%
Somalia 119,953 1.36%
Zimbabwe 117,873 1.33%
Ghana 113,637 1.29%
Latvia 98,882 1.12%
China, Hong Kong SAR 98,384 1.11%
Canada 91,545 1.04%
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 90,499 1.02%
Slovakia 89,422 1.01%
Hungary 84,155 0.95%
Afghanistan 80,160 0.91%
Turkey 75,791 0.86%
Iraq 74,719 0.85%
Netherlands 72,604 0.82%
Bulgaria 72,586 0.82%
Nepal 70,487 0.80%
Malaysia 65,253 0.74%
Cyprus 63,160 0.71%
Uganda 63,140 0.71%
New Zealand 62,091 0.70%
Greece 59,959 0.68%
Brazil 55,772 0.63%
Czechia 51,552 0.58%
Russian Federation 48,399 0.55%
Singapore 46,300 0.52%
Japan 45,243 0.51%
United Republic of Tanzania 43,139 0.49%
Thailand 41,046 0.46%
Egypt 39,980 0.45%
Belgium 36,822 0.42%
Mauritius 35,788 0.40%
Morocco 35,765 0.40%
Sweden 32,624 0.37%
Sierra Leone 32,613 0.37%
Saudi Arabia 31,574 0.36%
Viet Nam 30,518 0.35%
Albania 30,157 0.34%
Other North 29,599 0.33%
Malta 29,466 0.33%
Denmark 29,459 0.33%
Zambia 28,414 0.32%
Colombia 22,703 0.26%
Algeria 21,995 0.25%
Trinidad and Tobago 20,796 0.24%
Guyana 19,233 0.22%
Ukraine 19,197 0.22%
Austria 17,790 0.20%
Switzerland 17,594 0.20%
Democratic Republic of the Congo 17,194 0.19%
Barbados 16,620 0.19%
Channel Islands 16,350 0.18%
Sudan 16,200 0.18%
Israel 16,077 0.18%
Yemen 15,910 0.18%
Eritrea 15,604 0.18%
Dem. People’s Republic of Korea 15,329 0.17%
Norway 14,952 0.17%
Malawi 14,652 0.17%
Libya 14,499 0.16%
Lebanon 14,043 0.16%
Ethiopia 13,655 0.15%
Angola 12,882 0.15%
Other South 12,784 0.14%
Finland 11,745 0.13%
Kuwait 11,523 0.13%
Myanmar 10,710 0.12%
United Arab Emirates 10,095 0.11%
Gambia 9,998 0.11%
Gibraltar 9,801 0.11%
Argentina 9,296 0.11%
Cameroon 9,026 0.10%
Isle of Man 8,681 0.10%
Mexico 8,610 0.10%
Indonesia 8,481 0.10%
Grenada 8,206 0.09%
Syrian Arab Republic 8,158 0.09%
Saint Lucia 8,064 0.09%
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 8,062 0.09%
Congo 7,838 0.09%
Ecuador 7,725 0.09%
Estonia 7,674 0.09%
Croatia 7,402 0.08%
Serbia 7,385 0.08%
Côte d’Ivoire 6,997 0.08%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 6,943 0.08%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6,565 0.07%
Montserrat 6,417 0.07%
Peru 6,383 0.07%
Chile 6,290 0.07%
Dominica 5,616 0.06%
Republic of Korea 5,548 0.06%
Fiji 5,537 0.06%
Tunisia 5,415 0.06%
Mozambique 5,221 0.06%
Jordan 5,182 0.06%
Bahrain 5,133 0.06%
Saint Kitts and Nevis 4,974 0.06%
Brunei Darussalam 4,698 0.05%
Kazakhstan 4,452 0.05%
Burundi 3,951 0.04%
Rwanda 3,919 0.04%
Belarus 3,881 0.04%
Bermuda 3,772 0.04%
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 3,316 0.04%
Antigua and Barbuda 3,275 0.04%
Seychelles 3,178 0.04%
Liberia 3,151 0.04%
Botswana 2,880 0.03%
Oman 2,813 0.03%
Republic of Moldova 2,801 0.03%
Georgia 2,777 0.03%
TFYR Macedonia 2,598 0.03%
Azerbaijan 2,562 0.03%
Saint Helena 2,391 0.03%
Uzbekistan 2,347 0.03%
Qatar 2,218 0.03%
Cuba 2,184 0.02%
Namibia 2,171 0.02%
Guinea-Bissau 2,108 0.02%
Guinea 2,072 0.02%
Slovenia 1,883 0.02%
Iceland 1,823 0.02%
Senegal 1,750 0.02%
Luxembourg 1,714 0.02%
Bahamas 1,697 0.02%
Timor-Leste 1,646 0.02%
Mongolia 1,492 0.02%
Armenia 1,467 0.02%
Togo 1,428 0.02%
Swaziland 1,307 0.01%
Dominican Republic 1,217 0.01%
Uruguay 1,206 0.01%
Belize 1,189 0.01%
Cambodia 1,069 0.01%
Cabo Verde 1,048 0.01%
Papua New Guinea 982 0.01%
Kyrgyzstan 927 0.01%
Montenegro 920 0.01%
Madagascar 918 0.01%
Guatemala 859 0.01%
Sao Tome and Principe 842 0.01%
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 793 0.01%
El Salvador 776 0.01%
Cayman Islands 748 0.01%
Lesotho 696 0.01%
Paraguay 668 0.01%
Turkmenistan 642 0.01%
Costa Rica 637 0.01%
Panama 629 0.01%
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 586 0.01%
Honduras 559 0.01%
Aruba 555 0.01%
Benin 555 0.01%
Anguilla 477 0.01%
Djibouti 398 0.00%
Suriname 389 0.00%
Bhutan 379 0.00%
Tajikistan 372 0.00%
Monaco 352 0.00%
Faeroe Islands 350 0.00%
Mali 336 0.00%
Nicaragua 332 0.00%
Maldives 329 0.00%
Gabon 321 0.00%
Chad 303 0.00%
Solomon Islands 297 0.00%
Haiti 278 0.00%
Equatorial Guinea 255 0.00%
Tonga 243 0.00%
British Virgin Islands 238 0.00%
Burkina Faso 193 0.00%
Mauritania 190 0.00%
Samoa 190 0.00%
Niger 177 0.00%
Kiribati 148 0.00%
Central African Republic 139 0.00%
Vanuatu 137 0.00%
Comoros 126 0.00%
United States Virgin Islands 109 0.00%
New Caledonia 98 0.00%
Turks and Caicos Islands 89 0.00%
French Polynesia 70 0.00%
Andorra 51 0.00%
Greenland 48 0.00%
Liechtenstein 25 0.00%
Nauru 24 0.00%
Réunion 10 0.00%
Migrants in the UK 2017 8,841,717 100.00%