Iranians in the United Kingdom

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Iranians in the United Kingdom
Total population
Iranian-born residents
42,494 (2001 Census figure)
91,087 (2011 Census figure)
Regions with significant populations
In descending order: London, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle, Southampton, Slough[1]
British English, Persian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Kurdish and other languages of Iran. (see Languages of Iran)
Shia Islam, Non-religion, Christianity, Judaism, Bahá'í, Sunni Islam, Zoroastrianism, Other.

Iranians in the United Kingdom, also referred to as British Iranians, consist of people of Iranian nationality who have settled in the United Kingdom, as well as British residents and citizens of Iranian heritage.[2] According to the 2001 Census, 42,494 Iranian-born people reside in the UK.[3] This figure is thought to have risen to 86,000 by 2015, according to National Statistics estimates.


The vast majority of Iranians in the UK arrived after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In the following five years, an estimated 8,000 Iranian asylum seekers arrived in the country. The 1981 census showed 28,617 persons born in Iran (18,132 men, 10,485 women). Iranians were not separately distinguished in the 1991 census.[4] The 2001 census recorded 42,494 persons born in Iran.[3] The Office for National Statistics estimates that, in 2015, 86,000 Iranian-born people were living in the UK.[5] In 2004, the Iranian embassy in London estimated that as many as 75,000 Iranians might reside in the country.[4] Most adults are themselves immigrants; the second generation are quite young, and so there are relatively few adults of Iranian background born and raised in the UK.[6]


Iran is a primarily Shia Muslim country with Jewish, Bahá'í, Christian and Zoroastrian communities, a fact reflected in the migrant population in the UK.[7][8] However, there is an increasing number of Iranian Atheists and Agnostics. Some Iranians in the UK have converted from Shiaism to various sects of Christianity.[9] There are also active Jewish and Christian communities among British Iranians.[10][11]

See also[edit]




  • Harbottle, Lynn (2004), Food For Health, Food For Wealth: Ethnic and Gender Identities in British Iranian Communities, The Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, Oxford: Berghahn Books, ISBN 978-1-57181-634-4 
  • Spellman, Kathryn (2004), Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain, Forced Migration, Oxford: Berghahn Books, ISBN 978-1-57181-576-7 

Further reading[edit]

  • Spellman, Kathryn (2004), "Gendered spaces of exchange: Iranian Muslim religious practices in London", in Titley, Gavan, Resituating culture, Council of Europe. Directorate of Youth and Sport, pp. 151–161, ISBN 978-92-871-5396-8 

External links[edit]

  • The Flight from Tehran: British-Iranians 30 Years On, a series of radio programmes from the BBC
  • Iranian Association, Iranian Association was established as a registered charity in 1985 providing information and advice. It is also involved with art and culture, working with the British and Victoria & Albert museums to improve Iranian participation in London’s cultural life.
  • Iran Heritage Foundation, A non-political charity promoting the history and culture of Iran. It organises everything from lectures and talks to poetry recitals.
  • Kayhan London, Kayhan London is a publication for Iranian expats in London and beyond.