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Population by Country of Birth and Nationality

Published: 29 August 2013 

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Note: Further to recent consultations with our customers, it has been decided that all Population by Country of Birth and Nationality tables will now only be published on an annual basis.


Estimates of the population by Country of Birth and Nationality from the Annual Population Survey (APS) are published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The figures differ from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) mid-year population estimates as the APS excludes students in halls who do not have a parent resident in the UK and people in most other types of communal establishments (e.g. hotels, boarding houses, hostels, care homes, prisons, mobile home sites etc).

The ONS estimates include Scotland and since August 2012 have been updated on an annual basis. The latest figures are for the year to end of December 2012 and can be found on the ONS website. The estimates on the ONS website include further detail on the area of origin than shown in Table 1 and Table 2 below, as the data is split into Republic of Ireland, non-European Union (EU), and EU classifications.

Country of birth and nationality, calendar year 2012

In 2012, 7.2 per cent of the usually resident population of Scotland were born outside of the UK (375,000). 213,000 of those non-UK born residents were born outside of the EU (56.8 per cent). 5.5 per cent of the usually resident population of Scotland held non-British nationality (285,000), and 133,000 of those held non-EU nationality (46.7 per cent). There were statistically significant increases in the non-UK born population and the non-British national population between 2010 and 2012, as well as between 2011 and 2012. The non-UK born population increased from 326,000 in 2010, to 340,000 in 2011, to 375,000 in 2012. The non-British national population increased from 248,000 in 2010, to 259,000 in 2011, to 285,000 in 2012.
The 5 most common countries of birth were Poland (56,000 – 14.9 per cent of the non-UK born population in Scotland and 1.1 per cent of the usually resident population), India (24,000), Germany (23,000), United States of America (20,000) and Pakistan (20,000). 
The most common nationalities are from Poland (64,000), Republic of Ireland (16,000), United States of America (16,000), India (15,000) and Pakistan (13,000).

Comparisons with previous years

Estimates from 2004 to 2012 for population by country of birth and nationality are summarised in Table 1 and Table 2 below and more detail is on the ONS website. The estimates show a significant difference between 2004 and 2012 in the number of people living in Scotland who were born outside the UK. In 2004, 204,000 people living in Scotland were estimated to have been born outside of the UK compared with 375,000 in 2012, an increase of 171,000. Similarly the number of people with non-British nationality living in Scotland was estimated to have grown from 127,000 in 2004 to 285,000 in 2012, an increase of 158,000.

Background Information (Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) 38 Kb)


Council area level estimates, broken down into the two categories ‘UK’ and ‘Non-UK’, can be found in the tables below.

The tables below have been made available as Excel spreadsheets and can be viewed in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF).

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Table 1

Estimated population resident in Scotland, by Council area and country of birth, 2004-2012 (Calendar year)
(Excel    PDF)

Table 2

Estimated population resident in Scotland, by Council area and nationality, 2004-2012 (Calendar year)
(Excel    PDF)

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Enquiries and Suggestions

Please contact our Statistics Customer Services if you need any further information.

If you have comments or suggestions that would help us improve our outputs or our standards of service please contact:

Kirsty MacLachlan, Senior Statistician, National Records of Scotland,
Room 1/2/3, Ladywell House, Ladywell Road, Edinburgh. EH12 7TF.
Telephone: (0131) 314 4242

Page last updated: 19 August 2014

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