Migration Motives Statistic

What does the survey entail?


The Migration Motives Statistic provides information on the immigration of persons with a non-Dutch nationality, broken down by the reason for immigration into the Netherlands.

Target population

The population in this table comprises all immigrants holding a non-Dutch nationality at the time of entry. Information on entry date, nationality, age and length of stay was derived from the Personal Records Database (BRP). The socio-economic categories and the register-derived migration purposes of immigrants from EU/EFTA countries are determined based on data from the System of Social Statistical Datasets (SSB). In order to derive migration purposes, a selection has been made from all immigrants who have registered as residents of the Netherlands since 1999. CBS has data available on each selected immigrant including nationality, entry date, entry date of parents, entry date of the partner, starting date of employment and study enrolment date. The migration motive was derived from these data and according to decision rules described below.

Register-derived migration purpose and decision rule

Family – The register-derived migration purpose ‘Family’ applies to persons immigrating within 120 days after his or her partner’s entry, or within 120 days after entry of the migrant’s father or mother. Persons migrating to the Netherlands whose partner entered earlier than 120 days ago are always classified under family migrants. Couples who arrived in the Netherlands without being accompanied by a parent are classified as one family migrant and one labour migrant. The first person to take up employment is classified as a labour migrant, the other person as a family migrant.
Labour - The register-derived migration purpose ‘Labour’ applies when, within 120 days upon entry, the bulk of the migrant’s income is from labour. Persons immigrating into the Netherlands without being accompanied (by a partner, father or mother) who were employed in the year before date of entry are classified as labour migrants. Couples arriving in the Netherlands without being accompanied by a parent are classified as one family migrant and one labour migrant. The first person to take up employment is classified as a labour migrant, the other person as a family migrant.
Education - The register-derived migration purpose ‘Education’ applies to migrants who were enrolled in a study programme within 366 days upon entry.
Other/Unknown – This means none of the above decision rules apply to the immigrant.

Notes regarding student migrants:

The number of student migrants is lower than the number of international students from EU/EFTA countries enrolled in the Netherlands. This is because the table only includes those immigrants who registered with a Dutch municipality. Part of the international students are not immigrants, e.g. students from Germany or Belgium who are enrolled in the Netherlands but not living here. Students moving to the Netherlands who do not register with a municipality are classified as immigrants but are not included in the table. Some student migrants first register with an educational institution before registering with a municipality. As a result, CBS may be unable to link the education data to the immigration data.

Immigrants to whom none of the above register-derived purposes (labour, family or education) can be allocated are classified under the purpose ‘Other and unknown’. This may apply to students enrolled in private education or employees working here through an employment agency but not paying taxes in the Netherlands.
Cohabitation: CBS determines whether an immigrant is cohabiting based on the population register (BRP) data, but also on data such as joint tax returns and joint claims for allowances. As soon as there are joint registrations, CBS considers the two persons concerned to be a couple. However, some time elapses before people file their income tax returns; this mean CBS will only establish it concerns a couple and thus family migrants at a later stage. As a result, for each new reporting year family migration is slightly underestimated and the category ‘other and unknown’ slightly overestimated. More information will have become available at the next update, which is when the underestimations and overestimations are revised as accurately as possible.

Data on the migration motives of immigrants with a non-EU/EFTA nationality are obtained from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) of the Ministry of Justice and Security, based on the type of residence permit issued by IND. Linking of the data on migration motives and the population register (BRP) data results in enrichment of data on migration motives; for example, year of entry, socioeconomic category, nationality and length of stay.

Only non-Dutch nationalities are registered by IND. CBS therefore only has data on the motives of immigrants with a non-Dutch nationality.

Statistical unit


First year of survey

IND data since 1998.



Publication strategy

Figures on the year t-2 are published in the third quarter of year t.

How is the survey conducted?

Survey type

Integral observation.

Observation method

Annual data, provided by IND (on non-EU/EFTA immigrants only).


IND (for non-EU/EFTA immigrants).

Scope of sample survey

Not applicable.

Monitoring and adjustment methods

Figures are checked for inconsistenties using data from the population register (BRP) according to set regulations and criteria. For a number of non-EU/EFTA immigrants, the migration motives are unknown or not recorded by IND. Imputation is applied to these ‘unknown motives’, based on the existing proportion breakdown of the abovementioned motives. Serving as the basis for this imputation are those characteristics which correspond most closely with the migration motive, namely sex, age, marital status, year of entry into the Netherlands and nationality. This applies to 1 percent of all immigrants from non-EU/EFTA countries.


Not applicable.

What is the quality of the outcomes?


In some cases, CBS receives incomplete data from IND; the missing data are imputed in that case. See also under Monitoring and adjustment methods. As new data become available, the outcomes may turn out to be slightly different from previously published outcomes and figures published elsewhere on StatLine. This applies to all the periods that are listed in the table. Due to rounding during calculations, the sum of the separate purposes of non-Dutch immigrants may deviate from the total.

Sequential comparability

The figures are sequentially comparable.

Quality strategy

The figures are checked for completeness, internal consistency and plausibility.