India Emigration and Immigration

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
India Wiki Topics
Flag of India.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
India Background
Local Research Resources

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Almanacs and Directories[edit | edit source]

At the back of the Bombay Calendar and Almanac and the Madras Almanac, there are lists of shipping departures from India to various ports in England. The lists include the name of the British passengers and notes the presence of a native servant. However, they do not usually give the name of the servant. Occasionally free native passengers may be named. Published lists of passages to and from India are also included in the Bengal Directory of 1815-59.

1813 HathiTrust Digital Library; 1815; 1832 1834 1839 all HathiTrust DL; 1839 Google Books.

Offices and Archives to Contact[edit | edit source]

The British Library, India Office[edit | edit source]

Asian and African Studies enquiries
The British Library, India Office
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7873
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641

They offer a remote Ecclesiastical Search Service and Certified Copies for enquirers who cannot find required information on this database, and those who are unable to visit our reading room.
Use this website to search:

  • 300,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials in the India Office Records
  • biographical notes from a variety of sources
  • for mainly British and European people in India c.1600-1949
  • for people in other countries connected with the history of the British in India

The information included in the India Office Family History Search website is taken from a card index hitherto available only at the British Library. The card index was compiled by members of staff at the India Office Records from the mid-1970s onwards to meet the growing interest in genealogy. Users should note that probably less than 10% of the biographical sources available in the India Office Records was incorporated into the index, although future additions to this website are planned. As the biographical information included in this website is only a small part of the total available in the archives, users may need to search elsewhere in the records – see India Office Records: Family History Sources.

Passport Records[edit | edit source]

Duplicate identity certificates of natives of India proceeding to Europe 1900-17 (when their issue ceased) and duplicate passports from 1907 were sent to the British Library, India Office. Identity certificates 1900-1917 and passports for 1907-15 are at the British Library under reference L/P and J6. The duplicate passports for 1916-31 appear to have been destroyed.

National Archives, Kew[edit | edit source]

The National Archives
Ruskin Avenue, Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Guide: Immigration and Immigrants

Post-1962 Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

Some case files of the Immigration Appellate Authorities are held at Kew in Lord Chancellor's Department record series LCO 42 (1971-97). There are 875 files, most of them subject to closure periods ranging from 30 to as much as 75 years. Many of the files contain photographs. A Commonwealth citizen who wanted to work and settle in the United Kingdom had to obtain a Ministry of Labour Voucher. Applications for Employment Vouchers are in record series LAB 42. The series consists of vouchers that were not used, canceled or rejected, and the reasons given for the ruling under the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts of 1962 and 1968. The applications sometimes used the original voucher and are an excellent source for family historians. Normally they contain:

  • Original letters from the applicant to the Ministry of Labour
  • Correspondence from the Department of Employment to the applicant
  • Original application forms, which contain name of the applicant, date of birth, occupation, number of passport, special qualifications, and details about previous service in the armed forces
  • Photographs of the applicant

Finding the Town of Origin in India[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in India, see India Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

India Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.===Immigration to India===

Colonization[edit | edit source]

European settlements in India 1501-1739.png
  • Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama became the first European to re-establish direct trade links with India. Though Portugal's presence in India initially started in 1498, their colonial rule lasted from 1505 until 1961.
  • Trading rivalries among the seafaring European powers brought other European powers to India. The Dutch Republic, England, France, and Denmark-Norway all established trading posts in India in the early 17th century.
  • In the later 18th century, Great Britain and France struggled for dominance. By the middle of the century, the British had already gained direct or indirect control over almost all of India. British India, consisting of the directly-ruled British presidencies and provinces, contained the most populous and valuable parts of the British Empire and thus became known as "the jewel in the British crown".[1]
  • For greater detail on European settlements in India, see:

Slavery in India[edit | edit source]

  • Slavery existed in Portuguese India after the 16th century.
  • The Dutch, too, largely dealt in slaves. They were mainly Abyssian, known in India as Habshis or Sheedes. The Dutch Indian Ocean slave trade was primarily mediated by the Dutch East India Company.
  • In the Indian subcontinent, Arakan/Bengal, Malabar, and Coromandel remained the most important source of forced labour until the 1660s. Between 1626 and 1662, the Dutch exported on an average 150–400 slaves annually from the Arakan-Bengal coast. During the first thirty years of Batavia's existence, Indian and Arakanese slaves provided the main labour force of the company's Asian headquarters.
  • The volume of the total Dutch Indian Ocean slave trade has been estimated to be about 15–30% of the Atlantic slave trade.
  • See "Estimates of slaves held in various East India Company territories and Native Kingdoms in the 1830s".
  • After the British government passed legislation which abolished slavery in 1833, the Indian indenture system arose in response to labor demands in regions which had abolished slavery. The indenture system has been compared to slavery by some historians.[2]

Refugees in India[edit | edit source]

  • Under Indian law, multiple groups are generally accepted as legal refugees. These include Sri Lankan Tamils, Indians who were affected by the 1972 expulsion of Ugandans of Indian origin, and Indic (Indian)-origin religious minorities. As the birthplace of many religions, most prominently Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, India accepts followers of Indic-origin religions who are persecuted in their home states as refugees, most notably victims of the Partition of India and the 1971 Bangladesh genocide.
  • Currently, there are around 8,000 to 11,684 Afghan refugees in India, most of whom are Hindus and Sikhs.
  • Many people from East Bengal (area covering current-day Bangladesh), mainly Hindus, migrated to West Bengal during the partition of India in 1947.
  • Chakmas are a Bangladeshi Buddhist community. Chakma immigrants from Bangladesh have settled in the southern part of Mizoram because they were displaced by the construction of the Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River in 1962.
  • Following the partition of India, massive population exchanges occurred between the two newly formed nations, spanning several months. Based on the 1951 census, immediately after the partition 7.226 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan, while 7.249 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan to India.
  • The 14th Dalai Lama, a leader of the Tibetan migration movement, left Tibet for India after the 1959 Tibetan uprising. He was followed by about 80,000 Tibetan refugees.
  • In early August 1972, the president of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered nearly 80,000 Indians in Uganda, mostly Gujaratis', to leave the country within 90 days. The expelled included 23,000 Indians who were Ugandan citizens. Although Ugandan citizens of Indian origin were later exempted from the expulsion, many chose to leave voluntarily. At the time, anti-Indian sentiment in Uganda was prominent. 4,500 refugees from Uganda ended up in India.
  • More than 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in India, most of whom migrated during the rise of militancy in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009. Most Sri Lankans are settled in the southern states of Tamil Nadu (in the cities of Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, and Coimbatore), Karnataka (in Bengaluru), and Kerala.[3]

Emigration From India[edit | edit source]

Overseas Indians, officially known as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) or Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), are people of Indian birth, descent or origin who live outside the Republic of India. According to a Ministry of External Affairs report, there are 36 million NRIs and PIOs residing outside India, majorly in the following countries:[4]

Country Indian
United States 4,459,999
United Arab Emirates 3,425,144
Malaysia 2,987,950
Saudi Arabia 2,594,947
Myanmar 2,009,207
United Kingdom 1,892,000
Canada 1,520,100
Sri Lanka 1,504,000
Country Indian
South Africa 1,490,000
Kuwait 1,029,861
Mauritius 894,500
Nigeria 800,000+
Oman 781,141
Qatar 746,550
Australia 660,350
Singapore 650,000
Country Indian
Nepal 600,000
Trinidad and Tobago 556,800
Thailand 465,000
France 364,520
Bahrain 326,658
Fiji 315,198
Guyana 299,382
Netherlands 240,000
Country Indian
New Zealand 240,000
Suriname 237,205
Italy 203,052
Germany 185,085
Philippines 120,000
Indonesia 120,000
Kenya 100,000
Pakistan 16,501

Indian Emigration Within the Commonwealth, 1948 to 1962[edit | edit source]

Between 1948 and 1962, workers from British colonies could migrate to England without restriction. However, some immigrated to Great Britain and then quickly returned to India. Some examples are: Students who had completed their education, ayahs (nannies), servants, and nurses after their time of service. Under the British nationality Act of 1948 and until 1962, every Commonwealth citizen was entitled to enter Great Britain at will. Citizens of British colonies or British protectorates could simply apply to the Home Office for registration of British nationality and were issued certificates. This right had been freely exercised for many years, but it was only in the ten years from 1952 onward that substantial numbers of people from the Commonwealth began to think of settling in England.

Records of Indian Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

There are additional sources listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Colonial India", in Wikipedia,, accessed 19 June 2021.
  2. "Slavery in India", in Wikipedia,, accessed 21 June 2021.
  3. "Refugees in India", in Wikipedia,, accessed 21 June 2021.
  4. "Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin", in Wikipedia,, accessed 21 June 2021.