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The British in other countries

As is the case with citizens from many other countries, a large number of British citizens live outside their country of origin. Whether for professional, family, or retirement reasons, it is estimated that about 20 million citizens of the 27 countries of the European Union have embraced the expat life.

Estimates vary considerably as to the number of British citizens who live outside the UK, from 5.5 million to 13.1 million people (the latter estimate having been given by the Foreign Office in a written answer to the House of Commons dated 22 March 2006). Whatever the actual number, British expats clearly represent a hugely significant segment of the UK population, the equivalent of a very large city or an entire region of the country.

Moreover, the British abroad proudly maintain their observance of the British way of life, while making sterling efforts to integrate into their host communities. They keep up a keen interest in what is going on at home, following current events through satellite or Internet TV and radio and the British press.

Many EU member states support their own expat citizens by means of official representative organizations, including, most notably, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Similar arrangements exist for the Swiss abroad, and indeed for a large number of other nationalities outside the EU.

Alongside official representation channels, where these exist, expat communities tend to organize themselves into associations, such as the British Community Committee here in France. Because the British abroad face the same kind of challenges wherever they live, the BCC welcomes contacts and links with associations and other organizations representing British expats living in other countries. If you are active in such an organization, we invite you to contact us by e-mailing us at

or writing to :

The Chairman
British Community Committee
7, rue Auguste-Vacquerie
75116 Paris

Expat communities abroad

In recent months, attempts have been made at governmental level to coordinate the activities of organizations existing to represent the interests of expat communities abroad, and to propose measures for the protection of members of expat communities.

On 30 September 2008, under the French Presidency of the European Union, a first meeting of representatives of expat communities abroad was held in Paris, under the title "Europe on the Move". A second meeting, organized by the Consiglio Generale degli Italiani all’Estero (General Council of Italians Abroad) took place in the Senate of the Italian Republic, Rome, on 30 April 2010. The BCC was represented at both these meetings.