How many British citizens living abroad and migrants in the UK?

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 the British Nationality Act 1981 and immigration rules.

British Citizens Living Abroad have increased to 4.92 million

According to the 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 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.

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 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 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.

S. No.Year19902017
British Citizens Living Abroad3,795,6624,921,309
1Australia1,111,2031,351,846
2United States of America640,145748,206
3Canada688,691624,411
4Spain61,463308,872
5Ireland184,671278,040
6New Zealand227,889272,071
7France102,335188,161
8South Africa117,362123,764
9Germany103,961103,700
10Italy59,49272,234
11Channel Islands54,51959,939
12Netherlands36,21153,007
13Switzerland22,51249,847
14Isle of Man30,51039,614
15Cyprus9,05539,497
16Poland3,73236,186
17Bangladesh9,09034,266
18Indonesia20,88332,026
19Belgium21,48028,234
20United Arab Emirates12,22927,840
21Sweden11,47325,558
22Turkey6,48322,442
23Israel14,95821,329
24Denmark9,12621,286
25Norway14,58620,827
26Chile1,42818,901
27Portugal6,86618,709
28China, Hong Kong SAR11,83817,942
29Greece34,22317,358
30Japan10,20916,990
31Malta5,33312,928
32Austria6,06712,127
33Oman4,26010,464
34Kuwait10,01010,237
35Malaysia3,43310,049
36Hungary5219,392
37China4,7379,308
38Botswana3,2898,561
39Bulgaria598,025
40Zimbabwe19,1367,560
41Libya8,7127,393
42Finland1,7387,055
43Luxembourg2,3556,946
44Romania2736,870
45Brazil3,8496,061
46Gibraltar3,0255,717
47Slovakia345,083
48India5,0634,817
49Republic of Korea5594,810
50Jamaica5,4694,772
51Philippines6,0284,416
52Czechia3514,206
53Bermuda4,5904,024
54Qatar2,8863,917
55Mexico2,2733,447
56Lithuania2813,026
57Egypt3,0512,961
58Barbados2,9882,522
59Trinidad and Tobago2,1572,383
60Ecuador7192,222
61Brunei Darussalam1,9962,172
62Thailand212,128
63Panama3192,082
64Bahamas1,9642,077
65Cayman Islands1,0491,995
66Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)1,8811,831
67Uganda1,0711,754
68Russian Federation8991,742
69Bahrain1,6141,700
70Papua New Guinea2,1921,700
71Peru1,1851,699
72Namibia2,5401,594
73Malawi7691,486
74Iceland6471,443
75Ghana9721,399
76Zambia1,9871,348
77Colombia9911,322
78United Republic of Tanzania6821,264
79Morocco8281,243
80Sri Lanka481,193
81Viet Nam2561,169
82Latvia1171,111
83Antigua and Barbuda6231,013
84Saint Lucia405980
85Argentina2,391978
86Andorra1,043963
87Bolivia (Plurinational State of)580939
88Falkland Islands (Malvinas)664876
89British Virgin Islands440834
90Jordan465814
91Saint Vincent and the Grenadines682798
92Algeria2,060793
93Croatia182652
94Serbia79642
95Dominica230638
96Sierra Leone611585
97Guyana131579
98Costa Rica451522
99Dominican Republic581492
100Estonia31463
101Belarus340459
102Uruguay535458
103Mauritius694456
104Turks and Caicos Islands246449
105Belize306442
106Anguilla197426
107Guadeloupe166420
108Saint Helena274398
109Fiji759344
110Tajikistan477322
111Dem. People’s Republic of Korea188307
112Seychelles274293
113Cameroon..276
114Guatemala125232
115Liberia1,146227
116Lebanon212208
117Paraguay140178
118Puerto Rico336168
119Martinique67152
120Vanuatu239109
121Maldives94107
122Montserrat156106
123Faeroe Islands139103
124Honduras78103
125Cook Islands4996
126Cambodia4394
127El Salvador13590
128Mongolia6589
129Montenegro..88
130French Polynesia7685
131Liechtenstein2772
132Nicaragua4672
133Caribbean Netherlands5057
134Eritrea3456
135Sint Maarten (Dutch part)..54
136Cabo Verde1453
137Cuba11046
138Solomon Islands8538
139Bhutan1736
140Georgia..33
141Samoa4726
142Curaçao..24
143Greenland3215
144Slovenia7512
145Kiribati238
146Guinea..7

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.

YearMigrants in the UKUK PopulationMigrants %age
19903,650,28657,183,3316.38%
19954,155,29357,978,3217.17%
20004,730,16558,950,8478.02%
20055,926,15660,286,7549.83%
20107,604,58363,306,84312.01%
20158,411,02165,397,08012.86%
20178,841,71766,181,58513.36%

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.

S. No.Country of OriginTotalPercentage
Total Migrants in the UK 20178,841,717100.00%
1Poland874,2919.89%
2India836,5249.46%
3Pakistan529,3245.99%
4Ireland402,0894.55%
5Germany300,9833.40%
6Romania231,3582.62%
7Bangladesh228,3532.58%
8South Africa210,4702.38%
9Nigeria209,4172.37%
10China207,2782.34%
11United States of America190,4912.15%
12Italy170,4541.93%
13France160,9911.82%
14Lithuania158,8541.80%
15Portugal147,2711.67%
16Jamaica144,1961.63%
17Kenya141,0201.59%
18Philippines138,9051.57%
19Sri Lanka138,9041.57%
20Australia131,5421.49%
21Spain131,4961.49%
22Somalia119,9531.36%
23Zimbabwe117,8731.33%
24Ghana113,6371.29%
25Latvia98,8821.12%
26China, Hong Kong SAR98,3841.11%
27Canada91,5451.04%
28Iran (Islamic Republic of)90,4991.02%
29Slovakia89,4221.01%
30Hungary84,1550.95%
31Afghanistan80,1600.91%
32Turkey75,7910.86%
33Iraq74,7190.85%
34Netherlands72,6040.82%
35Bulgaria72,5860.82%
36Nepal70,4870.80%
37Malaysia65,2530.74%
38Cyprus63,1600.71%
39Uganda63,1400.71%
40New Zealand62,0910.70%
41Greece59,9590.68%
42Brazil55,7720.63%
43Czechia51,5520.58%
44Russian Federation48,3990.55%
45Singapore46,3000.52%
46Japan45,2430.51%
47United Republic of Tanzania43,1390.49%
48Thailand41,0460.46%
49Egypt39,9800.45%
50Belgium36,8220.42%
51Mauritius35,7880.40%
52Morocco35,7650.40%
53Sweden32,6240.37%
54Sierra Leone32,6130.37%
55Saudi Arabia31,5740.36%
56Viet Nam30,5180.35%
57Albania30,1570.34%
58Other North29,5990.33%
59Malta29,4660.33%
60Denmark29,4590.33%
61Zambia28,4140.32%
62Colombia22,7030.26%
63Algeria21,9950.25%
64Trinidad and Tobago20,7960.24%
65Guyana19,2330.22%
66Ukraine19,1970.22%
67Austria17,7900.20%
68Switzerland17,5940.20%
69Democratic Republic of the Congo17,1940.19%
70Barbados16,6200.19%
71Channel Islands16,3500.18%
72Sudan16,2000.18%
73Israel16,0770.18%
74Yemen15,9100.18%
75Eritrea15,6040.18%
76Dem. People’s Republic of Korea15,3290.17%
77Norway14,9520.17%
78Malawi14,6520.17%
79Libya14,4990.16%
80Lebanon14,0430.16%
81Ethiopia13,6550.15%
82Angola12,8820.15%
83Other South12,7840.14%
84Finland11,7450.13%
85Kuwait11,5230.13%
86Myanmar10,7100.12%
87United Arab Emirates10,0950.11%
88Gambia9,9980.11%
89Gibraltar9,8010.11%
90Argentina9,2960.11%
91Cameroon9,0260.10%
92Isle of Man8,6810.10%
93Mexico8,6100.10%
94Indonesia8,4810.10%
95Grenada8,2060.09%
96Syrian Arab Republic8,1580.09%
97Saint Lucia8,0640.09%
98Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)8,0620.09%
99Congo7,8380.09%
100Ecuador7,7250.09%
101Estonia7,6740.09%
102Croatia7,4020.08%
103Serbia7,3850.08%
104Côte d’Ivoire6,9970.08%
105Bosnia and Herzegovina6,9430.08%
106Saint Vincent and the Grenadines6,5650.07%
107Montserrat6,4170.07%
108Peru6,3830.07%
109Chile6,2900.07%
110Dominica5,6160.06%
111Republic of Korea5,5480.06%
112Fiji5,5370.06%
113Tunisia5,4150.06%
114Mozambique5,2210.06%
115Jordan5,1820.06%
116Bahrain5,1330.06%
117Saint Kitts and Nevis4,9740.06%
118Brunei Darussalam4,6980.05%
119Kazakhstan4,4520.05%
120Burundi3,9510.04%
121Rwanda3,9190.04%
122Belarus3,8810.04%
123Bermuda3,7720.04%
124Bolivia (Plurinational State of)3,3160.04%
125Antigua and Barbuda3,2750.04%
126Seychelles3,1780.04%
127Liberia3,1510.04%
128Botswana2,8800.03%
129Oman2,8130.03%
130Republic of Moldova2,8010.03%
131Georgia2,7770.03%
132TFYR Macedonia2,5980.03%
133Azerbaijan2,5620.03%
134Saint Helena2,3910.03%
135Uzbekistan2,3470.03%
136Qatar2,2180.03%
137Cuba2,1840.02%
138Namibia2,1710.02%
139Guinea-Bissau2,1080.02%
140Guinea2,0720.02%
141Slovenia1,8830.02%
142Iceland1,8230.02%
143Senegal1,7500.02%
144Luxembourg1,7140.02%
145Bahamas1,6970.02%
146Timor-Leste1,6460.02%
147Mongolia1,4920.02%
148Armenia1,4670.02%
149Togo1,4280.02%
150Swaziland1,3070.01%
151Dominican Republic1,2170.01%
152Uruguay1,2060.01%
153Belize1,1890.01%
154Cambodia1,0690.01%
155Cabo Verde1,0480.01%
156Papua New Guinea9820.01%
157Kyrgyzstan9270.01%
158Montenegro9200.01%
159Madagascar9180.01%
160Guatemala8590.01%
161Sao Tome and Principe8420.01%
162Falkland Islands (Malvinas)7930.01%
163El Salvador7760.01%
164Cayman Islands7480.01%
165Lesotho6960.01%
166Paraguay6680.01%
167Turkmenistan6420.01%
168Costa Rica6370.01%
169Panama6290.01%
170Lao People’s Democratic Republic5860.01%
171Honduras5590.01%
172Aruba5550.01%
173Benin5550.01%
174Anguilla4770.01%
175Djibouti3980.00%
176Suriname3890.00%
177Bhutan3790.00%
178Tajikistan3720.00%
179Monaco3520.00%
180Faeroe Islands3500.00%
181Mali3360.00%
182Nicaragua3320.00%
183Maldives3290.00%
184Gabon3210.00%
185Chad3030.00%
186Solomon Islands2970.00%
187Haiti2780.00%
188Equatorial Guinea2550.00%
189Tonga2430.00%
190British Virgin Islands2380.00%
191Burkina Faso1930.00%
192Mauritania1900.00%
193Samoa1900.00%
194Niger1770.00%
195Kiribati1480.00%
196Central African Republic1390.00%
197Vanuatu1370.00%
198Comoros1260.00%
199United States Virgin Islands1090.00%
200New Caledonia980.00%
201Turks and Caicos Islands890.00%
202French Polynesia700.00%
203Andorra510.00%
204Greenland480.00%
205Liechtenstein250.00%
206Nauru240.00%
207Réunion100.00%

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