The progress of the EU Settlement Scheme so far

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is a process to register EU, EEA and Swiss nationals living in the UK and to assign them either with settled or pre-settled status. These are new immigration statuses that confer the right to live and work in the UK after it leaves the EU and the right of free movement is revoked.

How many people have applied to the scheme so far?

We don’t know exactly what proportion of people who need to apply have done so. We rely on estimates, which show that at the end of May 2019, around 23% of EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals living in the UK had applied.

There is no centralised record of the number of EU citizens living in the UK so we have to estimate this number using surveys, such as the Annual Population Survey and the UK Census.

In 2018, there were an estimated 3.35 million people with EU, EEA, or Swiss nationality living in the UK. This excludes Irish nationals, who can apply but usually do not have to.

There are other groups whose size is impossible to estimate at all, for example non-EU family members of EU citizens and people who are eligible under the scheme but are currently living outside the UK.

The scheme opened fully on 29 March 2019, following a testing phase from August 2018. At the latest count, 788,200 people had applied, including 753,300 EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens (excluding Irish applicants). This represents approximately 23% of this population in the UK.

The timeline shows the cumulative total who have applied, by month. The Home Office will be releasing monthly updates on the number of applications.

Who has applied?

The highest number of applications are from Polish (132,400), Romanian (110,900) and Italian (91,400) nationals.

The chart below shows the estimated proportion who have applied, by nationality.

For some countries the error bars (the darker lines) are large because the population estimate is uncertain and comes with a confidence interval, or margin of error. For example, at the lower estimate 28% of Austrians have applied and at the upper estimate, 63% have applied.

Despite having most applications, Poland appears at the bottom of the EU countries in the chart, with the lowest proportion of its estimated UK population having applied.


We also have data on the place of residence of people who have applied and can compare this to the estimated number of EU citizens in each constituent part of the UK. The chart below shows the resulting estimates of the percentage who have applied in each area.

A bar chart showing the estimated percentage of EU citizens that have applied in each country of the UK. The figure was 24% in England, 20% in Scotland, 17% in Wales, and 14% in Northern Ireland.
Please note that an earlier version of this chart showed a higher percentage of EU citizens applying in Scotland. This was the result of a production error which has now been corrected.

Outcome of applications so far

At of the end of May 2019, 668,000 applications had been concluded, representing 85% of applications. Two-thirds of applicants received settled status and the remainder received pre-settled status. A handful of applications were withdrawn or were incomplete. As yet, none have been refused.

How many more people need to apply?

Out of the estimated 3.4 million EU (non-Irish), EEA, and Swiss, around 2.6 million might still have to apply. It is not possible to estimate the number of non-EU citizens who still must or could apply.

In most cases, the EUSS requires applicants to scan their identity documents using the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ application which is currently available only for Android devices. In the event that someone cannot scan their documents digitally, they can do so for a fee at one of 77 document scanning centres.

This interactive map shows the locations of document scanning centres across the UK. Scanning centres are shown as pink dots on the map and around each one is a shaded area showing a 30 minute walk, 30 minute drive, and 60 minute drive (one way) from the centre.

When the application becomes available on iOS devices, which the Government has stated is to happen by the end of 2019, we might see a sharp rise in applications.

About the settlement scheme

The EUSS exists because, in most cases, people residing in the UK based on rights derived from EU law will no longer have a legal right to reside in the UK once it leaves the EU. These individuals must apply for the new status. If they do not then they could be unlawfully resident in the UK in the future.

The main categories of people who must apply are:

  • EU (excluding Irish), EEA and Swiss citizens, and
  • Family members of an EU citizen who are not themselves British or EU citizens.

A detailed explanation of who must apply can be found in the Library’s EU Settlement Scheme briefing.

Sources and notes:

Home Office, EU Settlement Scheme statistics, May 2019

ONS, Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: tables 1.1 and 2.1; Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: individual country data

Notes to nationality chart: The error bars are based on a 95% confidence interval around the population estimate. Error bars cannot be calculated for EEA countries and Switzerland because we do not know the confidence interval of the combined population estimate. Luxembourg has no upper error bar because the lower estimate of the population is zero.

Notes to place of residence chart: There is some inaccuracy here, as the baseline population is EU (excluding Irish), EEA, and Swiss nationals, while the data on applications by part of the UK includes applications from all nationalities (including Irish and non-EU/EEA/Swiss). It is not possible to draw error bars because the confidence interval around this population estimate is unknown.

Georgina Sturge is a Statistical Researcher specialising in social and general statistics at the House of Commons Library.

Oliver Hawkins is a Data Science Lead at the House of Commons Library.

Image: brexit / airpix / CC BY 2.0

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