Country of birth

Mnemonic (reference code): COB

Type: Primary variable

Definition: Country of birth is the country in which a person was born. The grouping of countries within the classification is broadly regional, but takes into account the grouping of European Union (EU) countries. Countries in the EU are grouped into those that were EU members in March 2001, and those that became members (accession countries) between April 2001 and March 2011 as part of the EU enlargement process.

Applicability: Person

Classification: The country of birth question included six tick-box responses – one for each of the four parts of the UK, one for the Republic of Ireland, and one for ‘elsewhere’.   Where a person ticked ‘elsewhere’, they were asked to write in the current name of the country in which they were born.   Responses are assigned codes based on the National Statistics Country Classification. See Country of Birth Classification for a detailed classification list.

The categories in this classification may have been combined within the tables based on the Country of Birth hierarchy (Excel 73 Kb download)

Not applicable category (XXX) comprises: Schoolchildren and full-time students living away from home during term time.

Source question:

Image of Scottish question 7 from 2011

Scotland 2011

Reason for asking: Information from the traditional question on country of birth will provide further information on migrants and their characteristics. This information will provide estimates of the numbers and circumstances of (sometimes small) communities of people from various countries and, in particular, refugees and asylum seekers who may have particular needs.

This information identifies all long-term international migrants not identified by their response to question 10 (your address one year ago). Combined with other statistics, this information is used to produce international and national migration statistics, which are then used to produce population projections.

These statistics are used to allocate resources and to develop and monitor policy, to assess the needs of particular groups in the population, for example those migrating from outside the EU; to analyse trends in migration patterns and for the planning and provision of facilities and services.

Also, when used in combination with information on ethnic group and religion, these statistics give a more detailed level of information about the cultural background of people at a local level. Additionally, answers to this question can help to identify groups not identified by the question on ethnic group.

This information is also used in population estimates to make adjustments for fertility rates according to country of birth.

England & Wales (2011) and Scotland (2001) comparison:

This question is the same as it was in 2001 and ONS use the same format for the question. The data is fully comparable with England and Wales (2011) and Scotland (2001) data.


To see which of our published standard, additional and commissioned tables use this variable please use the Table Index.