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Bulgarian and Romanian migration to the UK - May 2014 guidance note

When will we know the impact of lifting restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants?

This has been updated, a new summary was published on 17th June 2014.

There has been considerable public interest in Bulgarian and Romanian migration to the UK, due to the end of transitional employment restrictions that took place on 1 January 2014. These restrictions had previously placed limits on the kind of employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens could undertake in the UK.

The first available data sources that could provide figures on employment for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens since the lifting of restrictions are the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and National Insurance Numbers (NINos) allocated to adult overseas nationals.

Labour Force Survey figures represent an estimate of the stock of people working in the UK, and are not a measure of when people have immigrated to the UK. The NINo statistics represent a flow measure of new registrations by non-UK nationals registering for a National Insurance Number. However, registrations can be a period of weeks, months or years after arrival in the UK. NINo registrations may include short-term migrants who stay in the UK for less than 12 months.

The best estimates that will show any changes in long term migration between the UK and EU2 countries will be from the International Passenger Survey1, since the information is collected at the point of arrival or departure.

What data for 2014 will be available and when?

International Passenger Survey (IPS) statistics estimate the number of long-term migrants entering and leaving the UK during a given period. A long-term migrant is defined as someone changing their country of usual residence for a period of at least one year. Estimates for the year ending March 2014 will be published on 28 August 2014. The first annual figures for calendar year 2014 will be published in May 2015. These figures will show estimates of how many long term immigrants have arrived from Bulgaria and Romania.

Population by country of birth and nationality data show how many of the usually resident population of the UK were born outside the UK and how many are non-British nationals. It is important to note that these figures do not include people living in communal establishments, such as university halls of residence. Estimates for 2014 will be published in August 2015.

Employment levels by country of birth and nationality show the number of Bulgarian and Romanian-born people and Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in employment in the UK. They may have arrived recently and taken up employment immediately, or come to the UK in the past and only recently taken up employment. Estimates for January to March 2014 were published on 14 May 2014. Estimates for April to June 2014 will be published on 13 August 2014.

Allocations of National Insurance numbers (NINo) to adult overseas nationals show the number of non-British nationals who have been allocated a NINo in a given time period. It is important to note that people may not be allocated a NINo during the same quarter in which they immigrate to the UK. These data will also include people who stay in the UK for less than one year. Estimates for the year ending March 2014 were published on 22 May. Estimates for the year ending June 2014 will be published on 28 August 2014.

The Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR) brings together the various data sources on international migration and describes the migration patterns that these latest statistics are showing. Please see the following sections that describe latest migration patterns of EU2 citizens in the MSQR:

What do the latest figures show about international migration over time?
Who is migrating to and from the UK?
Why are people migrating to and from the UK?

Where can I find out more about migration statistics?

If you would like to find out more about the latest international migration statistics, please see the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report or visit our international migration page, which includes a First Time User Guide to international migration statistics. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at: 


  1. The International Passenger Survey (IPS) is a large sample survey carried out at airports, seaports and tunnel routes throughout the UK. It identifies between 4,000 and 5,000 long-term migrants each year from a sample of between 700,000 and 800,000 passengers. IPS estimates of long-term migration do not include adjustments for asylum seekers, people who change their migration intentions or people who cross the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Categories: Migration, International Migration, Population
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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