This species is found throughout the Old World, apparently breeding where suitable localities are to be found in many European countries, although it no longer breeds in southwestern Europe. Eastwards it extends across Asia to China. In North America there are both feral domestic geese, which are similar to greylags, and occasional vagrants.
In Great Britain their numbers have declined as a breeding bird, retreating north to breed wild only in the Outer Hebrides and the northern mainland of Scotland. However during the 20th century, feral populations have been established elsewhere, and they have now re-colonised much of England. The breeding habitat is a variety of wetlands including marshes, lakes, and damp heather moors.