Poland named the largest source of remittances sent by Ukrainians living abroad
Poland is the largest source of remittances from Ukrainians working abroad. This reflects how many Ukrainians – around one million, according to some estimates – have found work in the country in recent years, drawn by the promise of jobs, higher wages and study opportunities.
Personal remittances account for a substantial part of Ukraine’s GDP. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the start of the conflict in the Donbas in 2014, which destabilised the country and damaged its economy, more Ukrainians have gone abroad to seek work. Between 2014 and 2018, personal remittances to Ukraine as a share of GDP increased from 5.5% to 11.2%, according to data released by the World Bank.
Private remittances from Ukrainians working abroad amounted to $11.98 billion in 2019, according to preliminary data from the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). This was more than the bank had previously forecast and represented a 7.8% increase on the previous year.
Almost one-third of the remittances, $3.8 billion, came from Ukrainians working in Poland, which has become a leading destination for Ukrainians in recent years. According to the NBU, there were almost one million Ukrainian citizens working in the country in 2019. This number has been cited in various estimates over the past few years, but is difficult to measure accurately.
Within Poland, Ukrainians are by far the largest group of workers from outside the EU. In 2018, over 70% of work permits issued to foreigners in Poland were handed out to Ukrainians. A much smaller share went to the next-largest groups: workers from Nepal, Belarus, India and Bangladesh.
After Poland, the next sizeable sources of remittances from Ukrainian workers were registered in the Czech Republic, Russia and the United States (roughly $1 billion each), followed by the United Kingdom.
Of the funds transferred through official channels, almost three-quarters were sent in dollars, with most of the remaining amount in euros. Just a small percentage were transferred in other currencies.
According to the NBU’s analysis, migration from Ukraine slowed somewhat in 2019 due to the strengthening of the hryvnia exchange rate. This increased real incomes domestically and helped reduce the wage gap with neighbouring countries, especially Poland, making emigration less attractive in financial terms.