Net migration to the UK fell considerably in 2020 by almost 90% due to the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, new figures have revealed. 

The Office for National Statistics released provisional estimates on Thursday indicating that long-term international migration continued to add to the UK population in 2020, but to a much smaller extent than in previous years. 

Around 34,000 more people moved to the UK than left in 2020 - this is an 88% decrease compared with the same period a year earlier and the lowest on record since 1993.

Net migration for EU nationals was negative, with 94,000 more EU nationals estimated to have left the UK than to have arrived. 

Similarly to the previous two years, the majority of those who emigrated in 2020 were EU nationals. An estimated 146,000 EU nationals left the UK in 2020 while only 20,000 immigrated, compared with 131,000 for the same period in 2019.




The impact of Brexit on migration will be difficult to disentangle from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus impacted people's ability to migrate to other countries with governments around the world introduced policies and restrictions in response and air travel to and from the UK dropped by 95% in the early months. As a result, UK immigration and emigration patterns were very different to past trends.

And, while the UK left the EU on January 31 2020, it was in a "transition period" until December 31 2020, so the extent and nature of the impact of Brexit upon people's migration decisions during 2020 is currently unknown.

But figures show immigration was much lower in 2020 than in previous years, an estimated 268,000 people immigrated to the UK during 2020, compared with 592,000 people in 2019.

Emigration also fell but to a lesser extent than for immigration; an estimated 234,000 people left the UK to live abroad in 2020, compared with 300,000 people in 2019.


Jay Lindop, Director of the Centre for International Migration, Office for National Statistics, said: “Although there is no evidence of an exodus from the UK in 2020, global travel restrictions meant the movement of people was limited, with all data sources suggesting migration fell to the lowest level seen for many years. 

"These are our best current estimates for international migration over this period, however, they are modelled figures based on experimental research and subject to a high level of uncertainty. 

"These figures will be updated further early next year as we bring together new sources of data to give the best picture of international migration.”