British citizenship applications by EU nationals are up 83% year on year, with 74,384 applications submitted, a record high according to government statistics. The Home Office speculated the increase is due to people wanting to confirm their status in the UK following Brexit.
But applications have been coming in from all over the world, not just the EU.
PACK & SEND’s data analysts have examined a year’s worth of data (2020: Q3 to 2021: Q2) to find out who’s most interested in becoming a British citizen, where residents of the UK might be going, and which country has the most sought-after citizenship in the world.
Pakistani was the number one nationality applying for British citizenship over the past year. 8,888 applications were submitted by Pakistani people between July 2020 and June 2021 for British citizenship by naturalisation, which is the legal process by which you choose to become a citizen of another country voluntarily.
Following on in second position were people of Indian nationality, who submitted 7,253 applications in the same period.
Italian, Romanian, and Polish people were the other most common nationalities submitting applications, each applying over six, five, and four thousand times respectively between 2020 and 2021.
The desire to move to and ultimately stay in the UK is likely due to the country’s flexibility with dual citizenship arrangements, the varied job market, and the world-renowned National Health Service.
Immigration is not a one-way concept, however, and just as there are people moving into the UK, there are people going out. Delving into emigration from the UK, we used Google search data to investigate which of the 100 most populous countries in the world UK residents search for the most in relation to citizenship.
The top contender by far is Great Britain itself. There were 197,400 Google searches for “British citizenship” between July 2020 and June 2021, which equates to approximately 289 per capita (per 100,000 people).
This could be because 5 years of residency is a prerequisite to the application’s approval. Prospective citizens must also pay £1,330 to submit and complete the application process, including the costs of the compulsory ceremony where successful applicants receive a certificate of citizenship.
Due to restrictions imposed by Covid-19, these ceremonies have been much harder to schedule, so the number of people able to complete the process dropped significantly. Just under 75 thousand people attended a ceremony in 2020, a 34% drop compared to 2019.
But these Google searches can also indicate where people are looking to move in the future, perhaps to join family and friends, or to retire somewhere warm. Moving internationally is a big step for anyone, and is likely to be considered for a while before making the leap. In fact, many citizenship applications require residency in the desired country for a certain number of years, so forward planning is essential as prospective applicants will have to have moved well in advance of making their application.
Canadian citizenship is the second most popular choice with UK residents, seeing almost 15 thousand searches between July 2020 and June 2021. Known for their friendly nature, Canadians live amongst stunning scenery, and the country consistently ranks well in the Global Peace Index. From an outsiders’ perspective, Canada could be the ideal place to move, especially with the economy being one of the best in the world and their reputation for welcoming immigrants.
Australia and France take spots three and four with 12,480 and 10,340 searches respectively. There’s a multitude of factors to consider when moving abroad, but our study into the best places for British expats to relocate to names three Australian cities as the top places to go based on the potential for a thriving social life, a happy home life, and general wellbeing. France also features in the top 100.
Germany is the final destination in the top five most desirable countries for UK residents to become a citizen, with just under 10,000 searches for “German citizenship” taking place in the last year.
And looking at global search data as opposed to just the UK, Great Britain is the third most popular country for those considering a change of citizenship (290 thousand searches). But not everyone wants to become a British citizen or has the option to if they don’t meet the eligibility requirements.
Based on our research, we can therefore say that the most desirable country in which to become a citizen is Canada, with 651 thousand searches for “Canadian citizenship” performed worldwide between July 2020 and June 2021. This averaged at 49,500 per month.
At PACK & SEND we pride ourselves on safely transporting people’s possessions wherever they need them in an efficient and secure manner, allowing them to focus on everything else. So, wherever you would like to settle down eventually – as a citizen or otherwise – we can help.
We used Google Keyword Planner to find the total Google search volume in the UK between July 2020 and June 2021 for interest in citizenship in the 100 most populous countries globally according to https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/. The Google searches were in the format of [British citizenship], with the appropriate word for each country replacing the word “British”.
To work out searches per capita (per 100,000 people) for each country’s citizenship, we used the UK population according to https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/uk-population/ on 22nd September 2021, and followed this formula:
(total search volume / population) * 100,000
For the most sought-after citizenship in the world, we used global search data over the same period as opposed to only UK data.