2021 sees increase in immigration to the Netherlands following unprecedented lows in 2020

For years the number of people moving to the Netherlands has been increasing, but the coronavirus crisis was an obstacle to this last year. In 2020, 44,000 fewer migrants arrived in the Netherlands than did in the previous year — in 2019, this number was 171,000.

According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), labour migrants are the main demographic that stayed away from the Netherlands last year. Around 30,000 fewer people from outside Europe moved to the Netherlands for work.

With most of the academic year being conducted online, this also meant that fewer people came to the Netherlands for their studies. This did make it easier to find a student room for those who did though — goodbye to months of homelessness!

Population growth halved

In addition, the travel restrictions meant that fewer people moved to the Netherlands to be reunited with their families last year. There were also fewer people that applied for asylum.

The CBS concluded that this decrease in migration, coupled with the high number of deaths caused by the coronavirus crisis, meant that population growth was halved last year. This was particularly noticeable in the larger cities — they’re still crowded though!

Immigrants are arriving again

Now that what we hope will be the worst of the crisis is over, people are once again packing their clogs and loading up on cheese in order to start their lives in the Netherlands. Haha, kidding — but it is true that the number of migrants is on the rise again this year.

However, this number is still lower than the figures for 2018 and 2019. The latter was the peak year, in which the most newbies arrived seeking out the cheese, canals, and high quality of life the Netherlands has to offer.


The chaos of 2020 also took a toll on emigration. Last year significantly fewer people moved away from the Netherlands than had done the year before. Although 52,000 people still said goodbye to the rain and bureaucracy we associate with the lowlands — most of these were people with Dutch nationality. As they say, you win some you lose some!

What are your thoughts on these figures? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Austin Distel/Unsplash

Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.


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