How Many British Citizens Living Abroad and Migrants in the UK?

This relates to British citizens living abroad statistics from 1990 to 2017. And 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.

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1. 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. 

British Citizen Living in the EU Countries

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 they deem 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.

British Citizen Living 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.

How long British Citizen can stay outside the UK?

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 if they 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.

British Citizens Living Abroad

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British Citizens Living Abroad

Country199020102017
Australia1,111,2031,187,1501,351,846
United States of America640,145720,428748,206
Canada688,691537,040624,411
Spain61,463319,145308,872
Ireland184,671249,392278,040
New Zealand227,889250,997272,071
France102,335171,346188,161
South Africa117,362128,581123,764
Germany103,96183,616103,700
Italy59,49264,97572,234
Channel Islands54,51955,97159,939
Netherlands36,21147,29753,007
Switzerland22,51240,89549,847
Isle of Man30,51037,52139,614
Cyprus9,05539,39339,497
Poland3,73235,82936,186
Bangladesh9,09031,61934,266
Indonesia20,88328,27632,026
Belgium21,48024,91528,234
United Arab Emirates12,22924,50527,840
Sweden11,47320,44425,558
Turkey6,48318,70922,442
Israel14,95821,20521,329
Denmark9,12617,01221,286
Norway14,58616,86820,827
Chile1,42811,04918,901
Portugal6,86616,21518,709
China, Hong Kong SAR11,83817,30117,942
Greece34,22318,79817,358
Japan10,20916,04416,990
Malta5,3339,60812,928
Austria6,0679,41612,127
Oman4,2604,12010,464
Kuwait10,0108,00210,237
Malaysia3,4339,42810,049
Hungary5215,3839,392
China4,7377,9159,308
Botswana3,2896,2208,561
Bulgaria592,9148,025
Zimbabwe19,13612,1747,560
Libya8,7126,4157,393
Finland1,7384,7597,055
Luxembourg2,3556,5466,946
Romania2739976,870
Brazil3,8494,9046,061
Gibraltar3,0255,3175,717
Slovakia344,0375,083
India5,0635,0474,817
Republic of Korea5593,8404,810
Jamaica5,4694,8434,772
Philippines6,0284,2174,416
Czechia3513,8694,206
Bermuda4,5904,0084,024
Qatar2,8864,7713,917
Mexico2,2733,3793,447
Lithuania2813,9013,026
Egypt3,0512,9542,961
Barbados2,9882,3892,522
Trinidad and Tobago2,1572,2862,383
Ecuador7191,4842,222
Brunei Darussalam1,9962,0122,172
Thailand211,9132,128
Panama3191,7172,082
Bahamas1,9641,8392,077
Cayman Islands1,0491,9691,995
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)1,8811,7221,831
Uganda1,0711,2491,754
Russian Federation8991,7081,742
Bahrain1,6142,1811,700
Papua New Guinea2,1921,5941,700
Peru1,1851,5341,699
Namibia2,5401,7181,594
Malawi7691,4781,486
Iceland6471,1131,443
Ghana9721,1301,399
Zambia1,9871,2861,348
Colombia9911,1551,322
United Republic of Tanzania6821,0401,264
Morocco8289201,243
Sri Lanka481,1631,193
Viet Nam2569271,169
Latvia1171,3691,111
Antigua and Barbuda6239351,013
Saint Lucia405920980
Argentina2,391940978
Andorra1,0431,125963
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)580776939
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)664798876
British Virgin Islands440714834
Jordan4651,822814
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines682781798
Algeria2,060693793
Croatia182666652
Serbia79662642
Dominica230543638
Sierra Leone611563585
Guyana131490579
Costa Rica451512522
Dominican Republic581457492
Estonia31524463
Belarus340441459
Uruguay535440458
Mauritius694395456
Turks and Caicos Islands246410449
Belize306347442
Anguilla197390426
Guadeloupe166402420
Saint Helena274374398
Fiji759331344
Tajikistan477328322
Dem. People’s Republic of Korea188276307
Seychelles274259293
Cameroon..204276
Guatemala125194232
Liberia1,146230227
Lebanon212252208
Paraguay140179178
Puerto Rico336176168
Martinique67148152
Vanuatu239107109
Maldives94102107
Montserrat156100106
Faeroe Islands13992103
Honduras7873103
Cook Islands498696
Cambodia4310294
El Salvador1358690
Mongolia658089
Montenegro..9888
French Polynesia768985
Liechtenstein275772
Nicaragua466672
Caribbean Netherlands504957
Eritrea345656
Sint Maarten (Dutch part)..5054
Cabo Verde145053
Cuba1105246
Solomon Islands854238
Bhutan173436
Georgia..3233
Samoa472926
Curaçao..2324
Greenland321915
Slovenia751512
Kiribati2398
Guinea....7
British Citizens Living Abroad3,795,6624,461,7114,921,309

How Many Foreign Migrants Are 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%.

YearNo. of MigrantsMigrants as Percentage of British Population
19903,650,2866.38%
19954,155,2937.17%
20004,730,1658.02%
20055,926,1569.83%
20107,604,58312.01%
20158,411,02112.86%
20178,841,71713.36%

Foreign Migrants in the UK by Country of Origin

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 of OriginNo. of MigrantsPercentage of British Pop.
Poland874,2919.89%
India836,5249.46%
Pakistan529,3245.99%
Ireland402,0894.55%
Germany300,9833.40%
Romania231,3582.62%
Bangladesh228,3532.58%
South Africa210,4702.38%
Nigeria209,4172.37%
China207,2782.34%
United States of America190,4912.15%
Italy170,4541.93%
France160,9911.82%
Lithuania158,8541.80%
Portugal147,2711.67%
Jamaica144,1961.63%
Kenya141,0201.59%
Philippines138,9051.57%
Sri Lanka138,9041.57%
Australia131,5421.49%
Spain131,4961.49%
Somalia119,9531.36%
Zimbabwe117,8731.33%
Ghana113,6371.29%
Latvia98,8821.12%
China, Hong Kong SAR98,3841.11%
Canada91,5451.04%
Iran (Islamic Republic of)90,4991.02%
Slovakia89,4221.01%
Hungary84,1550.95%
Afghanistan80,1600.91%
Turkey75,7910.86%
Iraq74,7190.85%
Netherlands72,6040.82%
Bulgaria72,5860.82%
Nepal70,4870.80%
Malaysia65,2530.74%
Cyprus63,1600.71%
Uganda63,1400.71%
New Zealand62,0910.70%
Greece59,9590.68%
Brazil55,7720.63%
Czechia51,5520.58%
Russian Federation48,3990.55%
Singapore46,3000.52%
Japan45,2430.51%
United Republic of Tanzania43,1390.49%
Thailand41,0460.46%
Egypt39,9800.45%
Belgium36,8220.42%
Mauritius35,7880.40%
Morocco35,7650.40%
Sweden32,6240.37%
Sierra Leone32,6130.37%
Saudi Arabia31,5740.36%
Viet Nam30,5180.35%
Albania30,1570.34%
Other North29,5990.33%
Malta29,4660.33%
Denmark29,4590.33%
Zambia28,4140.32%
Colombia22,7030.26%
Algeria21,9950.25%
Trinidad and Tobago20,7960.24%
Guyana19,2330.22%
Ukraine19,1970.22%
Austria17,7900.20%
Switzerland17,5940.20%
Democratic Republic of the Congo17,1940.19%
Barbados16,6200.19%
Channel Islands16,3500.18%
Sudan16,2000.18%
Israel16,0770.18%
Yemen15,9100.18%
Eritrea15,6040.18%
Dem. People’s Republic of Korea15,3290.17%
Norway14,9520.17%
Malawi14,6520.17%
Libya14,4990.16%
Lebanon14,0430.16%
Ethiopia13,6550.15%
Angola12,8820.15%
Other South12,7840.14%
Finland11,7450.13%
Kuwait11,5230.13%
Myanmar10,7100.12%
United Arab Emirates10,0950.11%
Gambia9,9980.11%
Gibraltar9,8010.11%
Argentina9,2960.11%
Cameroon9,0260.10%
Isle of Man8,6810.10%
Mexico8,6100.10%
Indonesia8,4810.10%
Grenada8,2060.09%
Syrian Arab Republic8,1580.09%
Saint Lucia8,0640.09%
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)8,0620.09%
Congo7,8380.09%
Ecuador7,7250.09%
Estonia7,6740.09%
Croatia7,4020.08%
Serbia7,3850.08%
Côte d’Ivoire6,9970.08%
Bosnia and Herzegovina6,9430.08%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines6,5650.07%
Montserrat6,4170.07%
Peru6,3830.07%
Chile6,2900.07%
Dominica5,6160.06%
Republic of Korea5,5480.06%
Fiji5,5370.06%
Tunisia5,4150.06%
Mozambique5,2210.06%
Jordan5,1820.06%
Bahrain5,1330.06%
Saint Kitts and Nevis4,9740.06%
Brunei Darussalam4,6980.05%
Kazakhstan4,4520.05%
Burundi3,9510.04%
Rwanda3,9190.04%
Belarus3,8810.04%
Bermuda3,7720.04%
Bolivia3,3160.04%
Antigua and Barbuda3,2750.04%
Seychelles3,1780.04%
Liberia3,1510.04%
Botswana2,8800.03%
Oman2,8130.03%
Republic of Moldova2,8010.03%
Georgia2,7770.03%
TFYR Macedonia2,5980.03%
Azerbaijan2,5620.03%
Saint Helena2,3910.03%
Uzbekistan2,3470.03%
Qatar2,2180.03%
Cuba2,1840.02%
Namibia2,1710.02%
Guinea-Bissau2,1080.02%
Guinea2,0720.02%
Slovenia1,8830.02%
Iceland1,8230.02%
Senegal1,7500.02%
Luxembourg1,7140.02%
Bahamas1,6970.02%
Timor-Leste1,6460.02%
Mongolia1,4920.02%
Armenia1,4670.02%
Togo1,4280.02%
Swaziland1,3070.01%
Dominican Republic1,2170.01%
Uruguay1,2060.01%
Belize1,1890.01%
Cambodia1,0690.01%
Cabo Verde1,0480.01%
Papua New Guinea9820.01%
Kyrgyzstan9270.01%
Montenegro9200.01%
Madagascar9180.01%
Guatemala8590.01%
Sao Tome and Principe8420.01%
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)7930.01%
El Salvador7760.01%
Cayman Islands7480.01%
Lesotho6960.01%
Paraguay6680.01%
Turkmenistan6420.01%
Costa Rica6370.01%
Panama6290.01%
Lao People’s Democratic Republic5860.01%
Honduras5590.01%
Aruba5550.01%
Benin5550.01%
Anguilla4770.01%
Djibouti3980.00%
Suriname3890.00%
Bhutan3790.00%
Tajikistan3720.00%
Monaco3520.00%
Faeroe Islands3500.00%
Mali3360.00%
Nicaragua3320.00%
Maldives3290.00%
Gabon3210.00%
Chad3030.00%
Solomon Islands2970.00%
Haiti2780.00%
Equatorial Guinea2550.00%
Tonga2430.00%
British Virgin Islands2380.00%
Burkina Faso1930.00%
Mauritania1900.00%
Samoa1900.00%
Niger1770.00%
Kiribati1480.00%
Central African Republic1390.00%
Vanuatu1370.00%
Comoros1260.00%
United States Virgin Islands1090.00%
New Caledonia980.00%
Turks and Caicos Islands890.00%
French Polynesia700.00%
Andorra510.00%
Greenland480.00%
Liechtenstein250.00%
Nauru240.00%
Réunion100.00%
Total Migrants in the UK8,841,717100.00%