UK most popular emigration destination in 2019 – report

  • Lusa
  • 21 December 2020

According to the Emigration Report released on Monday, the United Kingdom was where most Portuguese emigrated to in 2019.

The United Kingdom was where most Portuguese emigrated to in 2019, around 25,000 of the 80,000 leaving Portugal in that period, followed by Spain and Switzerland, according to the Emigration Report released on Monday in Lisbon.

The report, presented today during a ceremony at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Lisbon, highlighted the increase in emigration to the United Kingdom, “countering the downward trend seen since 2015”.

In 2019, the number of Portuguese entries into the United Kingdom totalled 24,593, 30.3% more than in 2018, an increase which “was more marked than the number of migrant entries into the United Kingdom as a whole (+21%)”.

The authors of the report underline that “the evolution of Portuguese emigration has followed the general trend of reversing the decline of entries into the UK on the eve of ‘Brexit'”.

“This growth, in addition to being able to include some cases of regularisation of previous emigration, is probably due to the perception that, after the ‘Brexit’, it may be more difficult to emigrate to the United Kingdom”, the document reads.

Last year, “Portuguese entries represented 3.2% of total entries in the United Kingdom, which made this emigration the seventh largest to that country” which “continues to be the main country in the world to which more Portuguese emigrate”.

In the same year, the number of Portuguese emigrants to the United Kingdom totalled 165,000, 17% more than in 2018. In 2000, this figure was 34,000, an increase of 385% over that period.

The report released today indicates that in 2019 the number of Portuguese who acquired British nationality totalled 2,227 (16.8% more than in 2018).

“This increase can be explained by the positive vote to leave the European Union (EU)”, the authors point out.

Spain was the second most Portuguese country to emigrate to last year (10,155), still a decrease of 4.5% compared to 2018.

“The growth trend since 2014 was interrupted in 2019, with the number of Portuguese entries in Spain declining again, although the total number of foreign entries continues to increase (+14.9%)”.

In third place in the choices of the Portuguese to emigrate is Switzerland, with 8,443 entries, 3.3% less than the previous year, the sixth consecutive year in which emigration to Switzerland decreased significantly and reached its peak in 2013. The report stresses that since 2001 the number of Portuguese entering Switzerland has not been as low.

For France – the country in the world with the highest number of Portuguese emigrants, due to the large wave of emigration in the 60/70s – around 8,000 Portuguese emigrated, followed by Germany with 5,785. Both states registered a decrease in the number of Portuguese emigrants compared to the previous year.

In the case of Germany, the decrease in the entry of Portuguese was around 19.7%, a figure which “confirms the downward trend in recent years, common to most destinations of Portuguese emigration”.

The Netherlands, with about 2,400 Portuguese entries per year, has registered a continuous increase of Portuguese emigrants in recent years.

When analysing the impact of Portuguese flows on destination countries, the authors of the report found that they are still quite representative in Luxembourg, where, among new emigrants, Portuguese were last year the second most represented nationality.

These figures confirm that Portuguese emigration remains “essentially within the European area”, bearing in mind that “of the 23 countries of destination most chosen by the Portuguese to emigrate, more than half (14) are European and of the 10 main countries of destination of Portuguese emigration, only two are located on another continent: Angola and Mozambique”.

Outside Europe, the main destination countries for Portuguese emigration are Angola (around 2,000 in 2019) and Mozambique (1,000 in 2016).

Portuguese emigration to Angola has declined significantly since 2015: -42% in 2016, -24% in 2017, -36% in 2018 and -11% in 2019.

“The recessive effects of the oil price crisis and its consequences on the sectors of the labour market to which Portuguese emigration was headed will probably have made themselves felt in full from 2016,” the authors explain.

The report positions Angola as the ninth country in the world to which most Portuguese emigrate.

The number of Portuguese entering the American continent – Brazil and the United States – increased in 2019.

In Brazil, Portuguese emigration grew 5% and 11.7% in 2018 and 2019, respectively. “This growth runs counter to the downward trend in Portuguese entries into Brazilian territory since 2014”.

“Despite this change, the number of Portuguese entering Brazil is still far from that observed in 2013: 2,904, the highest figure for the period under review”.