UPDATE - OCT 2021
I want the UK’s fantastic performers and other creative professionals to be able to tour abroad easily. That is why the Government tabled ambitious proposals during negotiations with the EU.
The Government has now spoken to every EU Member State about the issues facing our creative and cultural industries when looking to tour in Europe. From these discussions 20 Member States have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for UK musicians and performers.
These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden.
The durations and requirements do vary from Member State to Member State, and so I strongly recommend checking what the requirements are before travelling.
Visa-free work permit
The UK Government supports ambitious arrangements for performers and artists to be able to work and tour across Europe. In the negotiations with the EU, the Government were determined to get a good deal for British music because we recognise the value of this industry.
As negotiations began, the Government consulted extensively with the sector to find out what they needed from the negotiations. The Government listened to the experts in British music, including bodies like the Musicians Union, and reflected their views in our proposal to the EU.
During our negotiations with the EU, the Government sought a mutually beneficial agreement that would have allowed performers to continue performing across the continent without the need for work permits. Specifically, the Government proposed to capture the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff through the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors. This was a straightforward solution for our creative industries which would have benefited all sides.
The EU turned down our proposals on the basis that musicians were providing a service which they viewed as necessitating a work permit and/or visa. Meanwhile the UK Government will make the case for arrangements that make touring easier in the EU and also seek to signpost to guidance which will help UK business travellers navigate individual Member States’ immigration systems.
The Government are taking all steps we can to make the new processes as straightforward as possible for UK artists performing across the continent. Through negotiations with the EU we secured Transparency and Procedural Facilitation measures that will help ensure visa processes are as prompt and smooth as possible. The Agreement also contains provisions that promote efficient customs arrangements and the Government are working to make it easier to apply for and use ATA Carnets.
Some EU member states, such as France, already allow musicians from outside the EU to perform in their countries with minimal bureaucracy and those rules will apply to UK musicians as well.
Next steps... This outcome is regrettable, however there is scope to return to this issue in the future should the EU change its mind.
The Government’s door is still open, should the EU change its mind. The treaty the Government negotiated has a review clause that allows us to revisit the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors, but we shouldn’t have to wait for that if both sides can agree sooner to do the right thing for our talented artists. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will be making that point to his counterparts in Europe and the Government hopes they change their minds.
The UK’s continues to remain open for touring artists
The UK remains open for musicians to tour here. Musicians and artists (and technical staff) traveling to the UK from non-visa national countries, which includes but is not limited to EU nationals, are able to carry out a number of activities relating to the music and touring industry without a visa. Visiting musicians to the UK may perform at events, make personal appearances, take part in competitions, promotional activities and auditions, for up to 6 months without the need for formal sponsorship or a visa if they are not being paid beyond expenses or prize money. They can also receive payment for appearances at permit free festivals for up to 6 months, or for up to one month for a specific engagement. Musicians and support staff who are being paid in the UK may also qualify for entry under the Tier 5 Creative Worker route, if they are sponsored by a UK entity licensed with UK Visas and Immigration for this purpose. Entry is for up to 12 months and the relevant rules also provide for accompanying dependents. Entry under the Tier 5 Creative Worker route is visa-free for non-visa nationals where entry is for no more than three months.
The UK’s withdrawal agreement delivers on the Government’s promise to take the UK out of the EU’s customs territory and to regain control of our borders. This means there will be new customs processes on goods headed from GB into the EU and vice versa. These processes ensure that customs authorities remain able to protect their regulatory, security and financial interests. As part of this, ATA Carnets can be used for temporary imports of some goods, including professional equipment, as an alternative to facing full customs controls. This is already an option for temporary goods movements from the UK to many other non-EU countries. It reflects the established international approach in line with the ATA and Istanbul Conventions.
The Government recognises the importance of touring for UK musicians and other creative professionals, and has engaged extensively with the creative industries and arts sector since the announcement of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure they are aware of the new requirements. Going forward, the Government will continue our close dialogue with the creative and cultural sectors to ensure that they have the support they need to thrive.
Financial Support for the music industry
The Government is taking unprecedented action to help the music sector during the pandemic. The Government have provided £1.5 billion of direct support for arts across the UK, the biggest one off investment ever, and a sum that far exceeds what’s been provided in other countries. That builds on billions more coming from furlough, the self-employed income support scheme and other Government support.
"This Government recognise the importance of the UK’s world-leading cultural and creative industries. We recently demonstrated that commitment by providing an unprecedented £1.57 billion package of support to help them through the covid-19 pandemic. It is therefore entirely consistent that, during the negotiations with the EU, we pushed for ambitious arrangements allowing performers and artists to work across Europe.
Our proposals, which were informed by our extensive consultation and engagement with the UK’s cultural and creative industries, would have allowed UK musicians and other cultural touring professionals to travel and perform in the UK and the EU more easily, without the need for work permits. Regrettably, those mutually beneficial proposals were rejected by the EU. As a result, UK cultural professionals seeking to tour in the EU will be required to check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each member state in which they intend to tour. Although some member states allow touring without a permit, others will require a pre-approved visa and/or a work permit.
It is absolutely vital that we now support our touring sectors to understand the new rules associated with working and travelling in the EU. We are delivering an extensive programme of engagement with the sector to help them understand any new requirements. That includes working with Arts Council England and various other sector bodies, to help distil and clarify the new rules.
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has already made very clear, we will also look at whether we can work with our partners in EU member states to find ways to make life easier for those working in the creative industries in our respective countries. In the meantime, we will continue close dialogue with the creative and cultural sectors, to understand the ongoing impacts and ensure that that they have the right support at the right time to continue to thrive."
READ MORE: Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport’s statement on the situation, including what the UK asked for and to reassure that our door remains open should the EU change it’s mind, please visit NME at: https://www.nme.com/news/music/culture-secretary-oliver-dowden-brexit-eu-touring-2855581 to view his piece on the matter.