How many British are living abroad? The ultimate free advice!

Foreign Nationals Living in the UKThis 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 British Nationality Act 1981 and immigration rules.

British Citizens Living Abroad have increased to 4.92 million

According to UN, during 1990 to 2017, the number of British Citizens living abroad has increased from 3.79 m to 4.92 m. Apparently, the EU has not been the most common destination for Brits choosing to emigrate as 33% of all British-born emigrants living outside the UK in 2017 lived in Australia or New Zealand, 28% lived in the US or Canada and 26% in the EU – of which 6% lived in Ireland. Moreover, 69% of British citizens living in the EU lived in Spain, France or Germany in 2017.

How long British Citizen can stay outside 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.

Reciprocity of Immigration Status

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 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 authorisation. 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 1990-2017

S. No.
Year 1,990 1,995 2,000 2,005 2,010 2,015 2,017
WORLD 3,795,662 3,715,483 3,866,884 4,140,641 4,461,711 4,726,208 4,921,309
1 Australia 1,111,203 1,100,221 1,130,210 1,118,810 1,187,150 1,289,396 1,351,846
2 United States of America 640,145 667,769 694,961 696,965 720,428 724,185 748,206
3 Canada 688,691 641,095 608,742 559,313 537,040 600,583 624,411
4 Spain 61,463 74,249 118,972 222,431 319,145 305,969 308,872
5 Ireland 184,671 124,169 131,924 207,764 249,392 258,444 278,040
6 New Zealand 227,889 217,660 211,532 232,954 250,997 265,014 272,071
7 France 102,335 105,643 108,951 143,491 171,346 188,533 188,161
8 South Africa 117,362 105,771 124,002 148,510 128,581 117,019 123,764
9 Germany 103,961 107,736 111,510 96,506 83,616 87,123 103,700
10 Italy 59,492 45,568 31,644 48,310 64,975 70,986 72,234
11 Channel Islands 54,519 53,511 56,856 56,412 55,971 59,380 59,939
12 Netherlands 36,211 39,070 43,294 47,459 47,297 49,549 53,007
13 Switzerland 22,512 26,763 31,112 35,657 40,895 48,058 49,847
14 Isle of Man 30,510 32,475 34,442 36,200 37,521 39,052 39,614
15 Cyprus 9,055 12,804 16,552 24,227 39,393 40,134 39,497
16 Poland 3,732 3,192 2,731 18,982 35,829 34,545 36,186
17 Bangladesh 9,090 16,056 23,021 27,337 31,619 33,470 34,266
18 Indonesia 20,883 13,817 6,751 16,969 28,276 31,304 32,026
19 Belgium 21,480 24,013 25,850 24,478 24,915 27,878 28,234
20 United Arab Emirates 12,229 12,845 14,201 13,007 24,505 26,777 27,840
21 Sweden 11,473 13,616 14,602 17,175 20,444 24,552 25,558
22 Turkey 6,483 12,029 17,619 18,156 18,709 18,992 22,442
23 Israel 14,958 17,066 18,218 19,593 21,205 21,869 21,329
24 Denmark 9,126 11,553 14,074 15,496 17,012 19,312 21,286
25 Norway 14,586 13,692 14,347 14,601 16,868 19,457 20,827
26 Chile 1,428 1,537 1,646 6,328 11,049 18,161 18,901
27 Portugal 6,866 8,269 10,009 14,299 16,215 18,383 18,709
28 China, Hong Kong SAR 11,838 13,212 14,585 15,924 17,301 17,666 17,942
29 Greece 34,223 23,503 13,169 15,618 18,798 17,679 17,358
30 Japan 10,209 12,657 16,526 15,133 16,044 16,337 16,990
31 Malta 5,333 6,258 7,313 8,005 9,608 12,046 12,928
32 Austria 6,067 6,845 7,622 8,519 9,416 11,013 12,127
33 Oman 4,260 5,188 4,658 4,061 4,120 9,159 10,464
34 Kuwait 10,010 6,908 6,491 6,443 8,002 9,394 10,237
35 Malaysia 3,433 3,930 4,841 6,672 9,428 9,852 10,049
36 Hungary 521 2,091 3,661 4,522 5,383 7,928 9,392
37 China 4,737 5,649 6,561 7,238 7,915 9,108 9,308
38 Botswana 3,289 2,034 993 3,600 6,220 8,264 8,561
39 Bulgaria 59 692 1,324 2,165 2,914 6,982 8,025
40 Zimbabwe 19,136 18,132 23,747 19,394 12,174 7,560 7,560
41 Libya 8,712 6,959 5,321 5,863 6,415 7,232 7,393
42 Finland 1,738 2,018 2,297 3,528 4,759 6,466 7,055
43 Luxembourg 2,355 3,041 3,760 4,047 6,546 6,854 6,946
44 Romania 273 354 416 701 997 5,208 6,870
45 Brazil 3,849 3,947 4,044 4,506 4,904 5,905 6,061
46 Gibraltar 3,025 3,316 3,607 4,462 5,317 5,673 5,717
47 Slovakia 34 1,426 3,211 3,601 4,037 4,890 5,083
48 India 5,063 5,508 5,952 5,500 5,047 4,866 4,817
49 Republic of Korea 559 855 1,425 2,197 3,840 4,774 4,810
50 Jamaica 5,469 5,286 5,103 4,973 4,843 4,739 4,772
51 Philippines 6,028 8,112 33,603 27,198 4,217 4,282 4,416
52 Czechia 351 526 701 2,383 3,869 4,043 4,206
53 Bermuda 4,590 4,726 4,883 4,436 4,008 4,061 4,024
54 Qatar 2,886 2,677 2,070 2,433 4,771 3,841 3,917
55 Mexico 2,273 3,058 3,976 3,475 3,379 3,360 3,447
56 Lithuania 281 315 246 2,224 3,901 3,301 3,026
57 Egypt 3,051 2,573 2,299 2,737 2,954 3,504 2,961
58 Barbados 2,988 3,262 3,535 2,955 2,389 2,509 2,522
59 Trinidad and Tobago 2,157 1,958 2,090 2,243 2,286 2,368 2,383
60 Ecuador 719 807 895 1,056 1,484 2,158 2,222
61 Brunei Darussalam 1,996 1,961 1,926 1,969 2,012 2,055 2,172
62 Thailand 21 36 59 951 1,913 2,068 2,128
63 Panama 319 314 329 999 1,717 2,017 2,082
64 Bahamas 1,964 1,834 1,705 1,772 1,839 1,993 2,077
65 Cayman Islands 1,049 1,596 2,143 2,058 1,969 1,944 1,995
66 Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 1,881 1,761 1,635 1,679 1,722 1,803 1,831
67 Uganda 1,071 1,052 1,264 1,256 1,249 1,241 1,754
68 Russian Federation 899 865 800 1,267 1,708 1,741 1,742
69 Bahrain 1,614 1,493 1,378 1,602 2,181 1,657 1,700
70 Papua New Guinea 2,192 2,245 1,680 1,880 1,594 1,616 1,700
71 Peru 1,185 1,034 1,209 1,415 1,534 1,658 1,699
72 Namibia 2,540 2,429 2,256 1,783 1,718 1,625 1,594
73 Malawi 769 1,639 1,578 1,504 1,478 1,460 1,486
74 Iceland 647 684 721 918 1,113 1,324 1,443
75 Ghana 972 969 1,084 1,524 1,130 1,339 1,399
76 Zambia 1,987 1,434 1,036 1,154 1,286 1,335 1,348
77 Colombia 991 1,009 1,026 1,004 1,155 1,293 1,322
78 United Republic of Tanzania 682 866 912 1,015 1,040 1,061 1,264
79 Morocco 828 760 801 822 920 1,199 1,243
80 Sri Lanka 48 182 317 594 1,163 1,184 1,193
81 Viet Nam 256 1,230 3,613 2,803 927 1,119 1,169
82 Latvia 117 167 218 803 1,369 1,148 1,111
83 Antigua and Barbuda 623 720 817 876 935 994 1,013
84 Saint Lucia 405 547 751 874 920 972 980
85 Argentina 2,391 2,184 1,978 1,459 940 943 978
86 Andorra 1,043 975 907 1,085 1,125 988 963
87 Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 580 619 651 714 776 903 939
88 Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 664 640 704 650 798 872 876
89 British Virgin Islands 440 517 594 680 714 800 834
90 Jordan 465 724 981 1,417 1,822 784 814
91 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 682 719 748 763 781 795 798
92 Algeria 2,060 1,430 800 631 693 764 793
93 Croatia 182 186 171 419 666 670 652
94 Serbia 79 504 686 677 662 647 642
95 Dominica 230 304 362 446 543 633 638
96 Sierra Leone 611 595 580 567 563 561 585
97 Guyana 131 211 290 390 490 574 579
98 Costa Rica 451 339 397 260 512 519 522
99 Dominican Republic 581 646 710 586 457 482 492
100 Estonia 31 48 64 295 524 468 463
101 Belarus 340 409 478 460 441 461 459
102 Uruguay 535 523 513 475 440 454 458
103 Mauritius 694 450 458 415 395 454 456
104 Turks and Caicos Islands 246 316 386 398 410 416 449
105 Belize 306 297 288 318 347 403 442
106 Anguilla 197 254 311 358 390 418 426
107 Guadeloupe 166 222 277 340 402 417 420
108 Saint Helena 274 282 291 332 374 397 398
109 Fiji 759 646 528 308 331 341 344
110 Tajikistan 477 387 333 321 328 325 322
111 Dem. People’s Republic of Korea 188 205 221 249 276 304 307
112 Seychelles 274 223 173 216 259 290 293
113 Cameroon .. .. .. 256 204 260 276
114 Guatemala 125 134 142 168 194 223 232
115 Liberia 1,146 1,119 1,099 499 230 263 227
116 Lebanon 212 329 445 349 252 212 208
117 Paraguay 140 169 198 188 179 174 178
118 Puerto Rico 336 356 377 295 176 173 168
119 Martinique 67 101 135 141 148 153 152
120 Vanuatu 239 152 95 100 107 108 109
121 Maldives 94 94 89 101 102 103 107
122 Montserrat 156 129 94 97 100 105 106
123 Faeroe Islands 139 92 88 86 92 100 103
124 Honduras 78 77 76 75 73 102 103
125 Cook Islands 49 51 53 70 86 95 96
126 Cambodia 43 113 182 142 102 92 94
127 El Salvador 135 106 77 82 86 90 90
128 Mongolia 65 71 79 75 80 87 89
129 Montenegro .. .. .. .. 98 103 88
130 French Polynesia 76 83 89 92 89 84 85
131 Liechtenstein 27 37 47 51 57 70 72
132 Nicaragua 46 37 48 62 66 71 72
133 Caribbean Netherlands 50 104 158 168 49 55 57
134 Eritrea 34 38 43 49 56 56 56
135 Sint Maarten (Dutch part) .. .. .. 25 50 53 54
136 Cabo Verde 14 22 29 40 50 52 53
137 Cuba 110 84 57 57 52 47 46
138 Solomon Islands 85 85 81 59 42 39 38
139 Bhutan 17 19 22 28 34 36 36
140 Georgia .. .. 34 32 32 33 33
141 Samoa 47 41 35 33 29 27 26
142 Curaçao .. .. .. .. 23 24 24
143 Greenland 32 22 24 16 19 15 15
144 Slovenia 75 106 139 201 15 11 12
145 Kiribati 23 18 13 11 9 8 8
146 Guinea .. .. .. .. .. 8 7
Total 3,795,662 3,715,483 3,866,884 4,140,641 4,461,711 4,726,208 4,921,309

How many foreign nationals living in the UK?

Moreover, 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 has nearly doubled from 6.38% to 13.36% during 1990-2017.

Migrants in the UK 1990-2017
Year Migrants Population
Percentage of Population
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%

Number of 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.

Number of Foreign Nationals Living in the UK
S. No. Country of Origin Total Percentage
1 Poland 874,291 9.89%
2 India 836,524 9.46%
3 Pakistan 529,324 5.99%
4 Ireland 402,089 4.55%
5 Germany 300,983 3.40%
6 Romania 231,358 2.62%
7 Bangladesh 228,353 2.58%
8 South Africa 210,470 2.38%
9 Nigeria 209,417 2.37%
10 China 207,278 2.34%
11 United States of America 190,491 2.15%
12 Italy 170,454 1.93%
13 France 160,991 1.82%
14 Lithuania 158,854 1.80%
15 Portugal 147,271 1.67%
16 Jamaica 144,196 1.63%
17 Kenya 141,020 1.59%
18 Philippines 138,905 1.57%
19 Sri Lanka 138,904 1.57%
20 Australia 131,542 1.49%
21 Spain 131,496 1.49%
22 Somalia 119,953 1.36%
23 Zimbabwe 117,873 1.33%
24 Ghana 113,637 1.29%
25 Latvia 98,882 1.12%
26 China, Hong Kong SAR 98,384 1.11%
27 Canada 91,545 1.04%
28 Iran (Islamic Republic of) 90,499 1.02%
29 Slovakia 89,422 1.01%
30 Hungary 84,155 0.95%
31 Afghanistan 80,160 0.91%
32 Turkey 75,791 0.86%
33 Iraq 74,719 0.85%
34 Netherlands 72,604 0.82%
35 Bulgaria 72,586 0.82%
36 Nepal 70,487 0.80%
37 Malaysia 65,253 0.74%
38 Cyprus 63,160 0.71%
39 Uganda 63,140 0.71%
40 New Zealand 62,091 0.70%
41 Greece 59,959 0.68%
42 Brazil 55,772 0.63%
43 Czechia 51,552 0.58%
44 Russian Federation 48,399 0.55%
45 Singapore 46,300 0.52%
46 Japan 45,243 0.51%
47 United Republic of Tanzania 43,139 0.49%
48 Thailand 41,046 0.46%
49 Egypt 39,980 0.45%
50 Belgium 36,822 0.42%
51 Mauritius 35,788 0.40%
52 Morocco 35,765 0.40%
53 Sweden 32,624 0.37%
54 Sierra Leone 32,613 0.37%
55 Saudi Arabia 31,574 0.36%
56 Viet Nam 30,518 0.35%
57 Albania 30,157 0.34%
58 Other North 29,599 0.33%
59 Malta 29,466 0.33%
60 Denmark 29,459 0.33%
61 Zambia 28,414 0.32%
62 Colombia 22,703 0.26%
63 Algeria 21,995 0.25%
64 Trinidad and Tobago 20,796 0.24%
65 Guyana 19,233 0.22%
66 Ukraine 19,197 0.22%
67 Austria 17,790 0.20%
68 Switzerland 17,594 0.20%
69 Democratic Republic of the Congo 17,194 0.19%
70 Barbados 16,620 0.19%
71 Channel Islands 16,350 0.18%
72 Sudan 16,200 0.18%
73 Israel 16,077 0.18%
74 Yemen 15,910 0.18%
75 Eritrea 15,604 0.18%
76 Dem. People’s Republic of Korea 15,329 0.17%
77 Norway 14,952 0.17%
78 Malawi 14,652 0.17%
79 Libya 14,499 0.16%
80 Lebanon 14,043 0.16%
81 Ethiopia 13,655 0.15%
82 Angola 12,882 0.15%
83 Other South 12,784 0.14%
84 Finland 11,745 0.13%
85 Kuwait 11,523 0.13%
86 Myanmar 10,710 0.12%
87 United Arab Emirates 10,095 0.11%
88 Gambia 9,998 0.11%
89 Gibraltar 9,801 0.11%
90 Argentina 9,296 0.11%
91 Cameroon 9,026 0.10%
92 Isle of Man 8,681 0.10%
93 Mexico 8,610 0.10%
94 Indonesia 8,481 0.10%
95 Grenada 8,206 0.09%
96 Syrian Arab Republic 8,158 0.09%
97 Saint Lucia 8,064 0.09%
98 Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 8,062 0.09%
99 Congo 7,838 0.09%
100 Ecuador 7,725 0.09%
101 Estonia 7,674 0.09%
102 Croatia 7,402 0.08%
103 Serbia 7,385 0.08%
104 Côte d’Ivoire 6,997 0.08%
105 Bosnia and Herzegovina 6,943 0.08%
106 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6,565 0.07%
107 Montserrat 6,417 0.07%
108 Peru 6,383 0.07%
109 Chile 6,290 0.07%
110 Dominica 5,616 0.06%
111 Republic of Korea 5,548 0.06%
112 Fiji 5,537 0.06%
113 Tunisia 5,415 0.06%
114 Mozambique 5,221 0.06%
115 Jordan 5,182 0.06%
116 Bahrain 5,133 0.06%
117 Saint Kitts and Nevis 4,974 0.06%
118 Brunei Darussalam 4,698 0.05%
119 Kazakhstan 4,452 0.05%
120 Burundi 3,951 0.04%
121 Rwanda 3,919 0.04%
122 Belarus 3,881 0.04%
123 Bermuda 3,772 0.04%
124 Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 3,316 0.04%
125 Antigua and Barbuda 3,275 0.04%
126 Seychelles 3,178 0.04%
127 Liberia 3,151 0.04%
128 Botswana 2,880 0.03%
129 Oman 2,813 0.03%
130 Republic of Moldova 2,801 0.03%
131 Georgia 2,777 0.03%
132 TFYR Macedonia 2,598 0.03%
133 Azerbaijan 2,562 0.03%
134 Saint Helena 2,391 0.03%
135 Uzbekistan 2,347 0.03%
136 Qatar 2,218 0.03%
137 Cuba 2,184 0.02%
138 Namibia 2,171 0.02%
139 Guinea-Bissau 2,108 0.02%
140 Guinea 2,072 0.02%
141 Slovenia 1,883 0.02%
142 Iceland 1,823 0.02%
143 Senegal 1,750 0.02%
144 Luxembourg 1,714 0.02%
145 Bahamas 1,697 0.02%
146 Timor-Leste 1,646 0.02%
147 Mongolia 1,492 0.02%
148 Armenia 1,467 0.02%
149 Togo 1,428 0.02%
150 Swaziland 1,307 0.01%
151 Dominican Republic 1,217 0.01%
152 Uruguay 1,206 0.01%
153 Belize 1,189 0.01%
154 Cambodia 1,069 0.01%
155 Cabo Verde 1,048 0.01%
156 Papua New Guinea 982 0.01%
157 Kyrgyzstan 927 0.01%
158 Montenegro 920 0.01%
159 Madagascar 918 0.01%
160 Guatemala 859 0.01%
161 Sao Tome and Principe 842 0.01%
162 Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 793 0.01%
163 El Salvador 776 0.01%
164 Cayman Islands 748 0.01%
165 Lesotho 696 0.01%
166 Paraguay 668 0.01%
167 Turkmenistan 642 0.01%
168 Costa Rica 637 0.01%
169 Panama 629 0.01%
170 Lao People’s Democratic Republic 586 0.01%
171 Honduras 559 0.01%
172 Aruba 555 0.01%
173 Benin 555 0.01%
174 Anguilla 477 0.01%
175 Djibouti 398 0.00%
176 Suriname 389 0.00%
177 Bhutan 379 0.00%
178 Tajikistan 372 0.00%
179 Monaco 352 0.00%
180 Faeroe Islands 350 0.00%
181 Mali 336 0.00%
182 Nicaragua 332 0.00%
183 Maldives 329 0.00%
184 Gabon 321 0.00%
185 Chad 303 0.00%
186 Solomon Islands 297 0.00%
187 Haiti 278 0.00%
188 Equatorial Guinea 255 0.00%
189 Tonga 243 0.00%
190 British Virgin Islands 238 0.00%
191 Burkina Faso 193 0.00%
192 Mauritania 190 0.00%
193 Samoa 190 0.00%
194 Niger 177 0.00%
195 Kiribati 148 0.00%
196 Central African Republic 139 0.00%
197 Vanuatu 137 0.00%
198 Comoros 126 0.00%
199 United States Virgin Islands 109 0.00%
200 New Caledonia 98 0.00%
201 Turks and Caicos Islands 89 0.00%
202 French Polynesia 70 0.00%
203 Andorra 51 0.00%
204 Greenland 48 0.00%
205 Liechtenstein 25 0.00%
206 Nauru 24 0.00%
207 Réunion 10 0.00%
Total Migrants Stock in the UK 2017 8,841,717 100.00%

READ BLOG POSTS UK VISA & APPEAL SERVICES
UK VISA ENQUIRY PROCEDURE CONTACT IMMIGRATION SOLICITORS

Related: Requirements to Naturalise as a British Citizen u/s 6 of 1981 ActTypes of British Citizenship, Naturalisation and Registration Grants, and British Nationality Act 1981

Perhaps, to know more about UK Visa and Immigration please refer: UK Priority Visa ServiceUK Settlement Visa Processing TimeUK Tourist Visa Processing Time After BiometricsUK Visa Delay ReasonsUK Visa Reapply or AppealUK Immigration Appeal Waiting Time and UK Visa Appeal Solicitors