Now that the UK has left the European Union, musicians working in Europe are subject to additional requirements. So sadly there's no escaping that extra planning and paperwork if you want to perform abroad. But how can you find out what you need to do, and where can you go for advice?

Plan ahead

It is essential that you have gathered all the necessary documentation as far in advance as possible from leaving the UK. 

Happily, several organisations have campaigned on behalf of musicians to clarify and simplify the actions required, and provide regular updates and helpful resources.

The Musician’s Union has put together this helpful flowchart to help you work through each stage of the process, including travel documents and social security & taxation.

Do your research

Don’t forget: every member state has different requirements for visitors, so you need to check them individually. 

The ISM has produced this summary of the visa and work permit requirements for UK performers touring in Europe, as part of the range of support and services that they offer.

Additionally LIVE, the representative body for the live music industry, has produced this handy guide to the rules for visas and work permits in each EU country. 

Please note that this is not legal advice and the rules for UK citizens are still evolving, so you do need to check with the promoter in or consulate of the country you are touring to.

The latest advice from the government can be found here

Don't forget your instrument

The good news is that if you are travelling with your instrument between Great Britain and the EU (i.e. carrying your instrument as personal baggage or in a vehicle) you do not require an ATA Carnet.  

However, if you are not accompanying your instrument (ie it is carried as freight) then customs formalities (through a declaration or use of a carnet) will be required. In these circumstances, a carnet will facilitate dealing with customs when entering and leaving the EU.

Carnets are issued by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCC) (and other local chambers of commerce in the UK). The following links provide useful advice on how to obtain and use ATA Carnets:

If your instrument contains rare materials you will need to obtain a CITES Musical Instrument Certificate. Even if you have no immediate plans to travel, we recommend getting ahead of the game and applying for one now. The Certificate lasts for three years and currently there is no charge. Check out the MU advice.  

Ask for help! 

Remember, it is vital to be as well prepared as possible. A lot of these steps take time, and once you have let the UK it is extremely difficult to secure additional paperwork. However, you are not alone in navigating these new processes, so don't hesitate to ask for help or clarification from the appropriate authorities and the organisations mentioned above. 

Last updated 8 March 2021