Portuguese in the United Kingdom
Distribution of Portuguese citizens by local authority in England, Wales & Northern Ireland
Total population
Portuguese citizens
286,489 (England & Wales only)[1][2]
Portuguese-born residents
92,065 (2011 Census)
165,000 (2019 ONS estimate)
156,295(England & Wales only, 2021)[3]
Regions with significant populations
London, East Anglia, South East England, East Midlands, Channel Islands, Northern Ireland
English, Portuguese
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups

Portuguese in the United Kingdom are citizens or residents of the UK who are connected to the country of Portugal by birth, descent or citizenship.


History and settlement

The New Christians, who had converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism to avoid persecution but many of whom continued to practise their previous faith, began to migrate in small numbers to Britain in the late 15th century. As a result, by 1550 there were approximately 100 Portuguese Jews in London. Because England's religious status was unsettled at the time, the community remained secretive.[4] The community centred around the Anes family, who provided a physician, Rodrigo López,[5] to Queen Elizabeth.[4] The community was expelled in 1609, although some members were able to remain. In the 17th century, more Portuguese Jews fled to England from the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. Many of these came from the Canary Islands. With the readmission of Jews to England, from 1656 onwards the community was able to practise its beliefs.[4] The Bevis Marks Synagogue, constructed in 1701, has traditionally been attended by members of London's Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community.[6] Fried fish, which forms part of the classic British dish of fish and chips, was introduced to Britain by Jewish migrants fleeing Portugal and Spain.[7][8]

Some Portuguese emigrated to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, when guest workers left Portugal for other Western European countries in search of employment opportunities. However, the scale of migration to the UK during this period was small in comparison with Portuguese migration to France and Germany. Some Portuguese migrated to the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, when Portugal was amongst the poorest countries in Europe. Young males also left Portugal at this time in order to avoid being conscripted to fight in the Portuguese Colonial War.[9] More significant migration flows did not start until the late 1990s, and coincided with a significant rise in the Portuguese unemployment rate in the early to mid-2000s. While different sources disagree on the total size of the Portuguese population of the UK, they agree that there has been a significant increase in migration from Portugal since 2000.[10]

Since March 2019, Portuguese citizens resident in the United Kingdom who wish to remain in the UK after 30 June 2021 have been able to apply for Indefinite leave to remain in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme; this is as a result of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. After 30 June 2021, EU citizens of all Member States who have not obtained ILR under the Scheme will no longer, from a technical consideration, be legally resident in the UK.[11]



The 2001 UK Census recorded 36,555 Portuguese-born people resident in the UK.[12] More recent estimates by the Office for National Statistics put the figure at 165,000 in 2019.[13] The 2011 Census recorded 88,161 Portuguese-born residents in England and Wales.[14] The censuses of Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded 1,908 and 1,996 Portuguese-born residents respectively.[15][16] Other sources estimate the Portuguese community to be larger, with the editor of a Portuguese-language newspaper putting the number of Portuguese passport holders in London alone at 350,000. According to academics José Carlos Pina Almeida and David Corkill, writing in 2010, estimates of the Portuguese population of the UK range from 80,000 to 700,000.[10]

Almeida and Corkill report that the Portuguese-speaking groups in the UK are characterised by diversity of country of origin. Research published in 2007 found that approximately 30 per cent of Portuguese nationals registered with the consulate in London were born outside of Portugal,[17] with six countries of birth featuring prominently: Angola, India (which took over the former Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman and Diu in 1961),[18] Mozambique, Brazil, South Africa and Macau (those associated with Macau before China took over in 1999 or those with such a parent are eligible for Portuguese citizenship).[19] Almeida and Corkill argue that many migrants from these countries lived in Portugal before migrating onwards to the UK, and note that Portugal's European Union accession in 1986 "permitted those colonial subjects who possessed a Portuguese passport to gain entry to other member states", including the UK.[10]

As of 2021, an estimated 15,000 East Timorese people live in the UK, with many being holders of Portuguese passports.[20]

Population distribution

Location Portuguese-born population
East Midlands 4,393
East of England 12,161
London 41,041
North East England 646
North West England 3,858
South East England 12,430
South West England 5,592
West Midlands 3,379
Yorkshire and the Humber 2,345
Northern Ireland 1,996
Scotland 1,908
Wales 2,316

Of the 88,161 Portuguese-born residents of England and Wales recorded by the 2011 census, the vast majority were living in England. The English region with the largest concentration of Portuguese-born residents was London, accounting for almost half of the total England and Wales population. The South East had the second-largest concentration, closely followed by the East of England. Within London, the largest concentrations were in the boroughs of Lambeth (6,992 Portuguese-born residents) and Brent (3,076).[14] Vauxhall in Lambeth is a "long-standing hub for the Portuguese community".[21] Outside of London, Norfolk was the county with the largest concentration (3,418 Portuguese-born residents).[14] Within Norfolk, 1,455 Portuguese-born people were living in Breckland, which includes the town of Thetford, which has been noted for its large Portuguese population.[10][22]


According to the 2011 Census, Portuguese is the tenth most commonly spoken language in England and Wales, with 133,453 speakers.[23] A study undertaken in 2000 found that Portuguese was the 14th most common mother tongue amongst school children in London.[9] There is also a small community of Kriolu speakers in Greenwich. Kriolu is a Portuguese-African creole language originating in Cape Verde.[9]


Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that in the three months to June 2008, 82.8 per cent of working-age Portuguese-born men were in employment. The figure for women was 68.8 per cent. The unemployment rate was 7.4 per cent for men and 9.8 per cent for women.[24] 10.5 per cent of Portuguese-born men and 23.8 per cent of Portuguese-born women were economically inactive (this figure includes students, carers and the long-term sick, injured or disabled).[24][25]


National data on the educational performance of Portuguese pupils is not available because official ethnicity statistics do not differentiate between different European groups, but some local authorities have started to collect data with which to monitor pupil performance in more detail. Data from Lambeth schools "indicate Portuguese pupils were the lowest attaining groups compared to the national average of White British, African, Caribbean, Indian and other ethnic minority groups".[26] Data collected by the Institute for Public Policy Research from local authorities in England that collect data using extended ethnicity codes shows that, in 2010–2011, the proportion of Portuguese pupils gaining 5 A*–C grades including maths and English at GCSE was 45.9 percentage points below the England mean of 56.9 per cent.[27] Studies have attributed this relative underachievement to factors including "lack of understanding of the British education system, difficulties in speaking English, poor school attendance, poverty, interrupted prior education, negative teacher perceptions, poor school to home liaison and lack of exposure to written language". The research evidence from Lambeth shows that Portuguese pupils with poor English fluency perform poorly in educational terms, but that those who are fluent in English actually perform better than national averages.[28]

There are plans to open a bilingual school, approved by the Department for Education and will be called the Anglo-Portuguese School of London.

Culture and community

With the great number of Madeirans in the UK, Madeira Day and Portugal Day are celebrated in London.[citation needed]


Media for the Portuguese community in the UK as well as the Portuguese-speaking community has a strong presences, these include several newspaper publications, radio stations and television channels.[citation needed]



Famous Portuguese Britons

See also: List of Portuguese Britons

British citizens

Grace Aguilar, a historically significant novelist[citation needed]

The list below includes British born people of Portuguese descent and Portuguese born people who have become British citizens.

Non-citizen immigrants

The list below includes Portuguese immigrants and expatriates in the United Kingdom, who are not official British citizens, but residents of the UK.

See also


  1. ^ "Observatório da Emigração".
  2. ^ "Office of National Statistics".
  3. ^ "NOMIS".
  4. ^ a b c "The Portuguese Community in the Port of London". Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b Roth, Cecil (1941). A History Of The Jews In England. London: Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Johnson, Katy (4 April 2013). "Spanish and Portuguese Jews: Archives of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation". City of London. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  7. ^ Alexander, James (18 December 2009). "The unlikely origin of fish and chips". BBC News. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  8. ^ "St George's Day: 5 very English things that are not actually English". Daily Telegraph. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Edwards, Viv. "Portuguese today". BBC. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d Almeida, José Carlos Pina; Corkill, David (2010). "Portuguese Migrant Workers in the UK: A Case Study of Thetford, Norfolk". Portuguese Studies. 26 (1): 27–40. doi:10.1353/port.2010.0019. JSTOR 41105329. S2CID 245842608.
  11. ^ "Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (Settled and pre-settled status)".
  12. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  13. ^ "Table 1.3: Overseas-born population in the United Kingdom, excluding some residents in communal establishments, by sex, by country of birth, January 2019 to December 2019". Office for National Statistics. 21 May 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020. Figure given is the central estimate. See the source for 95% confidence intervals.
  14. ^ a b c d "2011 Census: QS203EW Country of birth (detailed), local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Country of birth (detailed)" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Country of Birth – Full Detail: QS206NI". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  17. ^ Almeida, José Carlos Pina (2007). "Citizens of the World: Migration and Citizenship of the Portuguese in the UK". Portuguese Studies. 23 (2): 208–229. doi:10.1353/port.2007.0006. JSTOR 41057962. S2CID 245847462.
  18. ^ Gavaghan, Julian (18 December 2013). "On This Day: India seizes Portuguese colony of Goa after invasion". Yahoo News. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Nationality". Sociedade de Advogados, RL. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  20. ^ Webster, Eve (27 June 2021). "UK's East Timorese population faces loss of rights after Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  21. ^ "Born abroad: Portugal". BBC News. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  22. ^ Jack, Ian (29 September 2007). "How many migrants does it take to change a Norfolk town?". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  23. ^ Gopal, Deepthi; Matras, Yaron (October 2013). "What languages are spoken in England and Wales?" (PDF). ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  24. ^ a b Khan, Kamran (August 2008). "Employment of foreign workers: Male and female labour market participation" (PDF). Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  25. ^ Leaker, Debra (2009). "Economic Inactivity". Economic & Labour Market Review. 3 (2): 42–46. doi:10.1057/elmr.2009.27.
  26. ^ Demie, Feyisa; Lewis, Kirstin (2010). "Raising the achievement of Portuguese pupils in British schools: a case study of good practice". Educational Studies. 36 (1): 95–109. doi:10.1080/03055690903162408. S2CID 145657988.
  27. ^ Rutter, Jill (March 2013). "Back to Basics: Towards a Successful and Cost-effective Integration Policy" (PDF). Institute for Public Policy Research. p. 43. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  28. ^ Demie, Feyisa; Lewis, Kirstin (October 2008). "Raising the Achievement of Portuguese Pupils: Good Practice in Lambeth Schools" (PDF). Lambeth Research and Statistics Unit. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  29. ^ "UK-Portuguese Newspaper Launched in Thetford Norfolk". NewswireToday. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  30. ^ "New paper for Portuguese in Britain". The Guardian. 15 November 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2021.
  31. ^ TV Cabo
  32. ^ Heertje, Arnold (2004). "The Dutch and Portuguese-Jewish background of David Ricardo". European Journal of the History of Economic Thought. 11 (2): 281–294. doi:10.1080/0967256042000209288. S2CID 154424757.