Back Residence permits for non-EU citizens


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At the end of 2017, there were 20.3 million valid residence permits granted to non-EU citizens permitting them to reside in one of the European Union (EU) Member States. Germany (23%), Italy (18%), France (14%), Spain (13%) and the United Kingdom (8%) accounted for three quarters of all valid residence permits granted to non-EU citizens.

Map of stock of residence permits granted in 2017 to non-EU citizens

The stock of valid residence permits issued to non-EU citizens rose by 5% between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017. The majority (21) of EU Member States reported an increasing number of valid permits.

The highest rate of increase was recorded in Hungary, where the stock of permits granted to non-EU citizens more than doubled (113%), followed by Bulgaria (41%), Malta (25%) and Slovakia (21%).

Chart of annual change in residence permits granted to non-EU citizens 2016-2017

Among the five Member States with the largest stocks of resident permits, Germany recorded the highest increase, as the number of valid permits rose by 14% between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017. Increases were also recorded in France, Spain and the United Kingdom. In this group only Italy recorded a reduction in the stock of valid permits (-3%). Among all Member States there were five other countries reporting a decline: Estonia, Czechia, Latvia, Greece and Romania.

Almost two fifths (38%) of all valid residence permits at the end of 2017 were issued for family-related reasons, with lower shares for employment reasons (16%), refugee status and subsidiary protection (7%) or education reasons (6%).

The source dataset is accessible here.



  1. The data are based on Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 on migration and international protection statistics. National administrative registers and databases are the main sources for these statistics, with the exception of the United Kingdom which provides data from a different source. As such, the data for the United Kingdom as presented in this news item are not fully comparable with those for the remaining EU Member States. The United Kingdom does not operate a system of residence permits. Its data relate to the numbers of non-EU citizens arriving in the United Kingdom who are permitted to enter the country under selected immigration categories, with the final statistics estimated by combining information from the Home Office immigration statistics with unpublished data.
  2. The EU figures exclude Denmark (no data available) and the 2017 figure for Malta is a provisional estimate.


For more information:

  • Overview of statistics on managed migration and asylum
  • Statistics Explained article on residence permits - statistics on stock of valid permits at the end of the year.


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