National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Population by Country of Birth and Nationality, Scotland, 2020

The NRS Catalogue is currently affected by an issue that is intermittently creating error messages for users. We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible, and we apologise for the inconvenience.

Population by Country of Birth and Nationality, Scotland, 2020

Notice - 30 September 2021

Due to a calculation error in the method used to reweight the survey this data is based on, which uses a three-month rolling average of Real Time Information (RTI) data, there is a lag of one month. Analysis done by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the impact on the population levels is very small; there is a slight overestimation of the non-UK population by approximately 0.5% at UK level. This represents less than half the size of the sampling variability. The size is roughly the same over the quarters of 2020 and the impact on January to December 2020 APS estimates at UK level is about 14,000 for EU born, 25,000 for non-EU born and 39,000 for non-UK born.

Last update: 17 September 2021
Next update: November 2021

Estimates of the Scottish population by Country of Birth and Nationality from the Annual Population Survey (APS). This provides information on the number of non-UK born and non-British nationals living in Scotland and each council area. The latest estimates are for the year ending December 2020. Comparable UK estimates can be found on the ONS website.

Main Points

A new weighting methodology has been introduced which calibrates to UK, EU and non-EU-born weighting populations for periods from January 2020. Due to this new weighting methodology, breakdowns of population estimates at lower levels are likely to be subject to greater uncertainty. Therefore, caution should be taken when making comparisons with these data.  

  • In 2020, there were estimated to be 406,000 non-British nationals living in Scotland. This represented about 8% of Scotland’s population.
  • Of all non-British nationals, 61% were EU nationals (247,000) and 39% were non-EU nationals (159,000).
  • Prior to 2010, the populations of EU and non-EU nationals living in Scotland were similar. Since 2010, the population of EU nationals has consistently been higher than the population of non-EU nationals.
  • Polish was the most common non-British nationality in Scotland in 2020, with 92,000 nationals (23% of the total non-British population).
  • The council areas with the largest proportion of residents with a non-British nationality were Aberdeen City (20%), City of Edinburgh (19%), and Glasgow City (12%).

Statistical Service in Scotland

Contact Us

Please get in touch if you need any further information, or have any suggestions for improvement.

E-mail: [email protected]

Lead Statistician: Esther Roughsedge

All statistical publications