Edition 2020

Photo description: Man carrying a piece of board towards a moving van.

Where do the emigrants go?

The most popular destination countries of Dutch emigrants have been the same for years: Belgium and Germany head the list, followed by Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Other popular destination countries are France, Australia and Turkey. Approximately one third of these emigrants are Dutch nationals with a second-generation migration background, which means they are departing for the country of birth of (one of) their parents. This applies in particular to Dutch emigrants to Turkey and Morocco, more than 80 percent of whom belong to the second generation.

to Belgium5,366to Spain2,711to Germany4,385to the UK2,571Where do the emigrants go?
to Australia1,450to Curaçao 1,094to Turkey1,252to the USA2,111to France1,523to Poland1,065

Both immigration and emigration have increased significantly in recent years. In 2020 this trend reversed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. After the introduction of various coronavirus measures in mid-March, the number of people who settled in the Netherlands from abroad halved. Emigration in April and May was also lower than in the same months in 2019. Since June 2020, immigration and emigration have increased again, but both are still clearly at a lower level than in the same periods last year.

Fewer Dutch people are emigrating

While total emigration keeps increasing, emigration of people born in the Netherlands has been declining for a number of years, bucking this trend. Every year just over 40 thousand Dutch people leave the Netherlands for other countries, but in 2019 this number dropped to 38 thousand.

Over-65s head more than average for southern European countries, especially Spain and France, presumably to enjoy their retirement there. Australia and the United Kingdom are very popular among people in their twenties; for example, they take a year off or go there for a study programme.

Emigration of Dutch nationals by age and country of destination, 2015/2019 (%)
Bestemming 0 to 19 yrs 20 to 29 yrs 30 to 44 yrs 45 to 64 yrs 65 yrs and over
Total of all countries 29.0 30.2 21.3 15.2 4.3
Belgium 29.6 33.4 20.5 13.2 3.3
Germany 23.0 30.5 21.4 19.7 5.4
Spain 16.7 22.2 20.1 27.6 13.4
United Kingdom 36.3 40.6 16.7 5.7 0.7
United States 30.0 27.0 29.1 12.2 1.6
France 20.3 17.9 17.2 29.8 14.8
Australia 15.6 55.6 22.0 5.6 1.2
Turkey 53.3 25.6 16.0 3.8 1.3
Curaçao 33.8 27.5 22.4 14.8 1.5

The decline in the number of departing Dutch citizens continued in 2020, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the first nine months of 2020, 22.5 thousand Dutch people left, more than 6 thousand fewer than in the same period the previous year. Not only departures to distant destinations such as Australia, the United States and Curaçao decreased as would be expected, countries such as Turkey, Spain and the United Kingdom in particular also welcomed far fewer Dutch people than a year earlier. On 31 January, the United Kingdom left the European Union as a result of Brexit, which may have made the country less popular.

Emigration of Dutch nationals, per month (x 1,000)
Maand 2018 2019 2020*
Jan 3.6 3.7 3.7
Feb 2.6 2.5 2.4
Mar 3.0 2.7 2.1
Apr 2.6 2.6 1.3
May 2.6 2.5 1.4
June 2.9 2.6 1.9
July 4.2 4.0 3.2
Aug 4.8 4.5 3.5
Sep 3.9 3.7 3.0
* provisional figures

The questions


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.