Migration and migrant population statistics

Data extracted in May 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2016.
Table 1: Immigration by citizenship, 2013
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm1ctz)
Figure 1: Immigrants, 2013 (1)
(per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm1ctz) and (migr_pop1ctz)
Figure 2: Distribution of immigrants by citizenship, 2013
(% of all immigrants)
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm2ctz)
Table 2: Immigration by country of birth, 2013 (1)
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm3ctb)
Table 3: Immigration by previous country of residence, 2013 (1)
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm5prv)
Figure 3: Immigrants by sex, 2013
(% of all immigrants)
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm2ctz)
Figure 4: Age structure of immigrants by citizenship, EU-28, 2013 (¹)
Source: Eurostat (migr_imm2ctz)
Table 4: Non-national population by group of citizenship, 1 January 2014 (1)
Source: Eurostat (migr_pop1ctz)
Table 5: Foreign-born population by country of birth, 1 January 2014 (1)
Source: Eurostat (migr_pop3ctb)
Figure 5: Share of non-nationals in the resident population, 1 January 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_pop1ctz)
Table 6: Main countries of citizenship and birth of the foreign / foreign-born population, 1 January 2014 (1)
(in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total foreign/foreign-born population)
Source: Eurostat (migr_pop1ctz) and (migr_pop3ctb)
Figure 6: Age structure of the national and non-national populations, EU-28, 1 January 2014
Source: Eurostat (migr_pop2ctz)
Figure 7: Number of persons having acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State, EU-28, 2009–13
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 7: Persons having acquired the citizenship of the reporting country, 2013 (1)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 8: Naturalisation rate, 2013 (1)
(per 100 non-national residents)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq) and (migr_pop1ctz)
Table 8: Post-2011 census population and migration revisions transmitted to Eurostat, situation as of the middle of May 2015
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq) and (migr_pop1ctz)

This article presents European Union (EU) statistics on international migration, population stocks of national and foreign (non-national) citizens and data relating to the acquisition of citizenship. Migration is influenced by a combination of economic, political and social factors: either in a migrant’s country of origin (push factors) or in the country of destination (pull factors). Historically, the relative economic prosperity and political stability of the EU are thought to have exerted a considerable pull effect on immigrants.

In destination countries, international migration may be used as a tool to solve specific labour market shortages. However, migration alone will almost certainly not reverse the ongoing trend of population ageing experienced in many parts of the EU.

Main statistical findings

Migration flows

A total of 3.4 million people immigrated to one of the EU-28 Member States during 2013, while at least 2.8 million emigrants were reported to have left an EU Member State. These total figures do not represent the migration flows to/from the EU as a whole, since they also include flows between different EU Member States.

Among these 3.4 million immigrants during 2013 there were an estimated 1.4 million citizens of non-member countries, 1.2 million people with citizenship of a different EU Member State from the one to which they immigrated, around 830 thousand people who migrated to an EU Member State of which they had the citizenship (for example returning nationals or nationals born abroad), and around 6.1 thousand stateless people.

Germany reported the largest number of immigrants (692.7 thousand) in 2013, followed by the United Kingdom (526.0 thousand), France (332.6 thousand), Italy (307.5 thousand) and Spain (280.8 thousand). Spain reported the highest number of emigrants in 2013 (532.3 thousand), followed by the United Kingdom (316.9 thousand), France (300.8 thousand), Poland (276.4 thousand) and Germany (259.3 thousand). A total of 16 of the EU Member States reported more immigration than emigration in 2013, but in Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the three Baltic Member States, emigrants outnumbered immigrants.

Relative to the size of the resident population, Luxembourg recorded the highest rates of immigration in 2013 (39 immigrants per 1 000 persons), followed by Malta (20 immigrants per 1 000 persons) and Cyprus (15 immigrants per 1 000 persons) — see Figure 1. The highest rates of emigration in 2013 were reported for Cyprus (29 emigrants per 1 000 persons) and Luxembourg (20 emigrants per 1 000 persons).

In 2013, the relative share of national immigrants, in other words immigrants with the citizenship of the Member State to which they were migrating, within the total number of immigrants was highest in Romania (90 % of all immigrants), Lithuania (86 %), Portugal (69 %), Estonia, Poland (both 60 %), Latvia (58 %) and Slovakia (52 %). These were the only EU Member States to report that national immigration accounted for a share higher than 50 % — see Figure 2. By contrast, Italy, Austria and Luxembourg reported relatively low shares, as national immigration in 2013 accounted for less than 10 % of all immigration.

Information on citizenship has often been used to study immigrants with a foreign background. However, since citizenship can change over the life-time of a person, it is also useful to present information by country of birth. The relative share of native-born immigrants within the total number of immigrants was highest in Romania (78 % of all immigrants), followed by Lithuania (77 %), Portugal (56 %), Latvia (52 %) and Poland (51 %). By contrast, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, Austria and Germany reported relatively low shares of native-born immigrants, less than 10 % of all immigration in 2013.

Immigration to the EU-28 from non-member countries was 1.7 million in 2013

During 2013, there were an estimated 1.7 million immigrants to the EU-28 from non-member countries. In addition, 1.7 million people previously residing in one EU Member State migrated to another Member State.

When analysed according to previous residence, in 2013, Luxembourg reported the largest share of immigrants coming from another EU Member State (91 % of all immigrants) followed by Romania (81 %) and Slovakia(79 %); relatively low shares were reported by Bulgaria (22 % of all immigrants) and Croatia (25 %) — see Table 3.

Regarding the gender distribution of immigrants to the EU Member States in 2013, there were slightly more men than women (53 % compared with 47 %). The Member State reporting the highest share of male immigrants was Slovenia (61 %); by contrast, the highest share of female immigrants was reported in Ireland (52 %).

Immigrants into EU Member States in 2013 were, on average, much younger than the population already resident in their country of destination. On 1 January 2014, the median age of the EU-28 population was 42 years. By contrast, the median age of immigrants to the EU-28 in 2013 was 28 years.

Migrant population

There were 33.5 million people born outside of the EU-28 living in an EU Member State on 1 January 2014, while there were 17.9 million persons who had been born in a different EU Member State from the one where they were resident. Only in Ireland, Hungary, Slovakia, Luxembourg and Cyprus was the number of persons born in other EU Member States higher than the number born outside of the EU-28.

On 1 January 2014, the number of people living in the EU-28 who were citizens of non-member countries was 19.6 million while the number of people living in the EU-28 who had been born outside of the EU was 33.5 million

The number of people residing in an EU Member State with citizenship of a non-member country on 1 January 2014 was 19.6 million, representing 3.9 % of the EU-28 population. In addition, there were 14.3 million persons living in one of the EU Member States on 1 January 2014 with the citizenship of another EU Member State.

In absolute terms, the largest numbers of non-nationals living in the EU Member States on 1 January 2014 were found in Germany (7.0 million persons), the United Kingdom (5.0 million), Italy (4.9 million), Spain (4.7 million) and France (4.2 million). Non-nationals in these five Member States collectively represented 76 % of the total number of non-nationals living in all of the EU Member States, while the same five Member States had a 63 % share of the EU’s population.

In relative terms, the EU Member State with the highest share of non-nationals was Luxembourg, as non-nationals accounted for 45 % of the total population. A high proportion of non-nationals (10 % or more of the resident population) was also observed in Cyprus, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Spain.

In most EU Member States the majority of non-nationals were citizens of non-member countries (see Table 4). The opposite is true only for Luxembourg, Slovakia, Cyprus, Ireland, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Malta and the United Kingdom. In the case of Latvia and Estonia, the proportion of citizens from non-member countries is particularly large due to the high number of recognised non-citizens (mainly former Soviet Union citizens, who are permanently resident in these countries but have not acquired any other citizenship).

In all EU Member States except for Estonia, the Czech Republic and Latvia, the number of people born in a non-member country was larger than the number of people with citizenship of a non-member country.

Table 6 presents a summary of the five main foreign citizenships and foreign countries of birth for the EU-28 Member States and EFTA for which detailed data are available.

An analysis of the age structure of the population shows that, for the EU-28 as a whole, the foreign population was younger than the national population. The distribution by age of foreigners shows, compared with nationals, a greater proportion of relatively young working age adults. In 2013, the median age of the national population in the EU-28 was 43 years, while the median age of non-nationals living in the EU was 35 years.

Acquisitions of citizenship

Acquisitions of citizenship were up by 20 % in 2013

The number of people acquiring the citizenship of an EU Member State in 2013 was 984.8 thousand, corresponding to a 20 % increase with respect to 2012. In 2013, more people had acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State than in any other year during the period from 2002 to 2012.

Spain had the highest number of persons acquiring citizenship in 2013, at 225.8 thousand (or 23 % of the EU-28 total). The next highest levels of acquisition of citizenship were in the United Kingdom (207.5 thousand), Germany (115.1 thousand), Italy (100.7 thousand) and France (97.3 thousand);

In absolute terms, the highest increases compared with 2012 were observed in Spain, as 131 700 more residents were granted Spanish citizenship (this is in part due to a change in the source of information, concept and time reference), followed by Italy (35.3 thousand), the United Kingdom (13.6 thousand) and Greece (9.2 thousand). By contrast, the highest decreases in absolute terms were observed in Hungary (9.2 thousand fewer persons were granted Hungarian citizenship than in 2012) and the Netherlands (5.0 thousand).

One commonly used indicator is the ‘naturalisation rate’, defined as the ratio between the total number of citizenships granted and the stock of non-national residents at the beginning of the year. The EU Member State with the highest naturalisation rate in 2013 was Sweden (7.6 acquisitions per 100 non-national residents), followed by Hungary and Portugal (with 6.5 and 5.9 acquisitions per 100 non-national residents respectively).

Some 871.3 thousand citizens of non-member countries residing in an EU Member State acquired EU citizenship in 2013, corresponding to a 21 % increase with respect to 2012. As such, citizens of non-member countries accounted for 89 % of all persons who acquired citizenship of an EU Member State in 2013. These new EU-28 citizens were mainly from Africa (26 % of the total number of citizenships acquired), Asia (23 %), North and South America (22 %) and Europe outside of the EU-28 (17 %). Citizens of EU Member States who acquired citizenship of another EU Member State amounted to 98 500 persons, thus accounting for 10 % of the total. In absolute terms, the main groups of EU-28 citizens acquiring citizenship of another EU Member State were Romanians becoming citizens of Hungary (7.0 thousand persons) or Italy (4.4 thousand persons), Poles becoming citizens of the United Kingdom (6.0 thousand persons) or Germany (5.5 thousand persons), Italians becoming citizens of Germany (2.8 thousand persons) or Belgium (1.9 thousand persons), Greeks becoming citizens of France (3.9 thousand persons) and Portuguese becoming citizens of the United Kingdom (1.9 thousand persons)

In Luxembourg and Hungary the majority of new citizenships granted were to citizens of another EU Member State. In the case of Luxembourg, Portuguese citizens accounted for the largest share, followed by Italian, French, Belgian and German citizens, while in the case of Hungary EU nationals acquiring citizenship were almost exclusively Romanians.

As in previous years, the largest group of new citizens in the EU Member States in 2013 were citizens of Morocco (86.5 thousand, corresponding to 8.8 % of all citizenships granted), followed by citizens of India (48.3 thousand, corresponding to 4.9 % of all citizenships granted), Turkey (46.5 thousand, or 4.7 %), Colombia (42.0 thousand, or 4.3 %), Albania (41.7 thousand, or 4.2 %) and Ecuador (40.4 thousand, or 4.1 %). Compared with 2012, the number of Moroccan citizens acquiring citizenship of an EU Member State increased by 46 %. The largest shares of Moroccans acquired their new citizenship in Spain (35 %), Italy (29 %) or France (19 %).

Data sources and availability

Emigration is particularly difficult to measure; it is harder to count people leaving a country than those arriving. An analysis comparing 2013 immigration and emigration data from the EU Member States (mirror statistics) confirmed that this was true in many countries. As a result, this article focuses mainly on immigration data.

Eurostat produces statistics on a range of issues related to international migration flows, non-national (foreigner) population stocks and the acquisition of citizenship. Data are collected on an annual basis and are supplied to Eurostat by the national statistical authorities of the EU Member States.

Countries revising the population series after the 2011 census round were expected to send revised post-census results by age, sex and citizenship or country of birth to Eurostat for the whole intercensal period or shorter by the end of 2013. Eurostat was informed of difficulties from several countries to meet the deadline of 31 December 2013 for post-2011 census data transmission. At the time of writing, the only such known remaining difficulty is for Germany, which plans to provide revised data by the first half of 2015.

These revisions of data will have an impact on the naturalisation rates.

Basis for data collection

Since 2008 the collection of migration, citizenship and asylum data has been based on Regulation 862/2007; the analysis and composition of the EU, EFTA and candidate countries groups as at 1 January of the reference year are given in the implementation Regulation 351/2010. This defines a core set of statistics on international migration flows, population stocks of foreigners, the acquisition of citizenship, residence permits, asylum and measures against illegal entry and stay. Although EU Member States may continue to use any appropriate data according to national availability and practice, the statistics collected under the Regulation must be based on common definitions and concepts. Most EU Member States base their statistics on administrative data sources such as population registers, registers of foreigners, registers of residence or work permits, health insurance registers and tax registers. Some countries use mirror statistics, sample surveys or estimation methods to produce migration statistics.

The data on the acquisition of citizenship are normally produced from administrative systems. The implementation of the Regulation is expected to result in increased availability and comparability of migration and citizenship statistics.

As stated in Article 2.1(a), (b), (c) of Regulation 862/2007, immigrants who have been residing (or who are expected to reside) in the territory of an EU Member State for a period of at least 12 months are enumerated, as are emigrants living abroad for more than 12 months. Therefore, data collected by Eurostat concern migration for a period of 12 months or longer: migrants therefore include people who have migrated for a period of one year or more as well as persons who have migrated on a permanent basis.

Data on acquisitions of citizenship are collected by Eurostat under the provisions of Article 3.1.(d) of Regulation 862/2007, which states that: ’Member States shall supply to the Commission (Eurostat) statistics on the numbers of (…) persons having their usual residence in the territory of the Member State and having acquired during the reference year the citizenship of the Member State (…) disaggregated by (…) the former citizenship of the persons concerned and by whether the person was formerly stateless’.

The ‘naturalisation rate’ should be used with caution because the numerator includes all modes of acquisitions and not just naturalisations of eligible residing foreigners and the denominator includes all foreigners and not the relevant population, in other words, those foreigners who are eligible for naturalisation.

Main data availability notes

The EU-27 aggregates of acquisitions of citizenship data for 2010, 2011 and 2012 include Romanian data for 2009.


Citizens of EU Member States have freedom to travel and freedom of movement within the EU’s internal borders. Migration policies within the EU in relation to citizens of non-member countries are increasingly concerned with attracting a particular migrant profile, often in an attempt to alleviate specific skills shortages. Selection can be carried out on the basis of language proficiency, work experience, education and age. Alternatively, employers can make the selection so that migrants already have a job upon their arrival.

Besides policies to encourage labour recruitment, immigration policy is often focused on two areas: preventing unauthorised migration and the illegal employment of migrants who are not permitted to work, and promoting the integration of immigrants into society. Significant resources have been mobilised to fight people smuggling and trafficking networks in the EU.

Some of the most important legal texts adopted in the area of immigration include:

Within the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs is responsible for the European migration policy. In 2005, the European Commission relaunched the debate on the need for a common set of rules for the admission of economic migrants with a Green paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration (COM(2004) 811 final) which led to the adoption of a (COM(2005) 669 final) at the end of 2005. In July 2006, the European Commission adopted a Communication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (COM(2006) 402 final), which aims to strike a balance between security and an individuals’ basic rights during all stages of the illegal immigration process. In September 2007, the European Commission presented its third annual report on migration and integration (COM(2007) 512 final). A European Commission Communication adopted in October 2008 emphasised the importance of strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies (COM(2008) 611 final) as an aspect of external and development policy. The Stockholm programme, adopted by EU heads of state and government in December 2009, set a framework and series of principles for the ongoing development of European policies on justice and home affairs for the period 2010 to 2014; migration-related issues are a central part of this programme. In order to bring about the changes agreed upon, the European Commission enacted an action plan implementing the Stockholm programme – delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens (COM(2010) 171 final) in 2010.

In May 2013, the European Commission published the ‘EU Citizenship Report 2013’ (COM(2013) 269 final). The report noted that EU citizenship brings new rights and opportunities. Moving and living freely within the EU is the right most closely associated with EU citizenship. Given modern technology and the fact that it is now easier to travel, freedom of movement allows Europeans to expand their horizons beyond national borders, to leave their country for shorter or longer periods, to come and go between EU countries to work, study and train, to travel for business or for leisure, or to shop across borders. Free movement potentially increases social and cultural interactions within the EU and closer bonds between EU citizens. In addition, it may generate mutual economic benefits for businesses and consumers, including those who remain at home, as internal obstacles are steadily removed.

The European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects on 13 May 2015.

The European migration network annual report on immigration and asylum (2014) was published on 10 June 2015. It provides an overview of the main legal and policy developments taking place across the EU as a whole and within participating countries. It is a comprehensive document and covers all aspects of migration and asylum policy by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs and EU agencies.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Migration and citizenship data
International migration (t_migr_int)
Immigration (tps00176)
Emigration (tps00177)
Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)


Migration and citizenship data
Immigration (migr_immi)
Immigration by five year age group, sex, and citizenship (migr_imm1ctz)
Immigration by five year age group, sex and country of birth (migr_imm3ctb)
Immigration by age , sex and broad group of citizenship (migr_imm2ctz)
Immigration by age, sex and broad group of country of birth (migr_imm4ctb)
Immigration by sex, citizenship and broad group of country of birth (migr_imm6ctz)
Immigration by sex, country of birth and broad group of citizenship (migr_imm7ctb)
Immigration by five year age group, sex, and country of previous residence (migr_imm5prv)
Emigration (migr_emi)
Emigration by age and sex (migr_emi2)
Emigration by five year age group, sex and citizenship (migr_emi1ctz)
Emigration by five year age group, sex and country of birth (migr_emi4ctb)
Emigration by five year age group, sex, and country of next usual residence (migr_emi3nxt)
Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)
Acquisition of citizenship by sex, age group and former citizenship (migr_acq)
Loss of citizenship by sex and new citizenship (migr_lct)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links