Brexit roundup: October 2021 Jump to main content

Brexit roundup: October 2021

Brexit has created enormous complexities for artists travelling to and from the UK. There are new rules to follow and processes to complete that our members need to understand. DCMS has recently released a series of checklists for touring in Europe which includes information for musicians.

Our Brexit advice pages offer further information on visas and work permits for UK artists, ATA carnets, CITES and EU workers coming to the UK. If you have consulted these pages and still have questions, or wish to become a member, then please contact [email protected] or call 020 7221 3499.

UK-based artists visiting the EU

Visas and work permits for short-term paid work

All UK nationals holding a valid passport (with at least six months' validity) can travel for up to 90 days in a 180-day period in the Schengen area under the existing visa-waiver regime. However, as of 1 January 2021, each Member State can now choose to treat UK citizens as ‘visa nationals’ when entering that country for paid work and may require both a visa and a work permit.

Whilst some EU countries offer exemptions for cultural activity, many Member States require visas and/or short-term work permits (see ISM overview). We strongly encourage organisations and individuals to check with the consular authorities for the countries they will be working in before travelling. This is a very complex picture and we continue to lobby government for clear guidance to help navigate the different entry requirements in each EU Member State.

Travelling between the UK and the EU with a musical instrument

ATA Carnets

Individuals taking musical instruments or equipment temporarily out of the UK to work, perform or tour in the EU need to consider the customs requirements for each visiting country. We also have had further confirmation from HM Treasury that the same rules apply when travelling to Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

The Government recently updated its guidance confirming that on option for musicians transporting instruments or equipment in their baggage or vehicle (accompanied), for either personal or business use, is to use a temporary admission to avoid paying duty by going through the green or ‘nothing to declare’ channel.

For instruments and equipment that are not accompanied (i.e. they are carried as freight), the government guidance states that other temporary admissions procedures must be considered such as an ATA Carnet.


Musicians travelling with instruments or accessories containing protected materials need to obtain a CITES permit and certificate. For instruments carried as hand luggage for personal use, a Musical Instrument Certificate (MIC) is required. For the shipment of instruments that are not carried as hand luggage for personal use, UK and EU regulations require a Travelling Exhibition Certificate (TEC). The holder must travel through CITES-designated points of entry and exit to allow customs authorities to endorse the certificate when entering or leaving the UK.

Together with the Musicians Union, the Animal & Plant Heath Agency (APHA) and UK Border Force have published a webinar series that provides a clear guidance note on how to make Musical Instrument Certificate (MIC) applications. The webinars includes CITES requirements for travel and the criteria for use, as well as practical issues such as Designated Ports of Entry when travelling with instruments requiring MICs.

Northern Ireland will remain part of the EU CITES zone, meaning that CITES permits will be required to move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For the movement of CITES specimens from GB to NI, and NI to GB, CITES import and export checks will all happen in Northern Ireland. Individuals can use any point of entry/exit from GB but must use one of the CITES-designated points of entry/exit in NI (Belfast International, Belfast Seaport, and Larne).

Road Haulage

If you are using a UK-based haulier to transport your instruments or equipment to the EU, there are now movement restrictions. Once in the EU, hauliers are only able to carry out two additional movements, either cross-trade or cabotage (the movement of goods or people between two places in the same country), with a maximum of 1 cabotage movement within a 7-day period.

Under the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) goods for commercial purposes can only be transported by a vehicle which is exclusively used for this purpose, such as a lorry.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that, following talks with counterparts in the EU Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), 'splitter vans that are carrying both goods and passengers will not be subject to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement market access rules. This means that once in the EU, splitter vans will not be subject to the TCA restrictions on cross trade/cabotage for UK hauliers, and will be subject to individual Member States’ rules.'

EU-based artists visiting the UK

From 1 January 2021, EEA and Swiss nationals can visit the UK for up to six months without a visa. For paid work, there are several different routes available depending on the duration of the work.

Options for applications made at the UK border for short-term work include Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE), Temporary Work - Creative Worker visa (previously known as a T5 visa) and Permit Free Festival (PFF).

It is important to remember not to go through the electronic gates (e-gates). You must speak to a border official to obtain the correct visa before crossing the border.

Applications for the Temporary Work - Creative Worker visa which allows up to 12 months’ stay must be made up to 3 months prior to arrival.

For long-term work, options include the Frontier Worker Permit, Skilled Worker Visa, Global Talent visa and Graduate Immigration Routes.

Merchandise in Baggage

Commercial goods, also known as Merchandise in Baggage, are goods to sell or use in your business where:

  • a commercial transport operator does not carry them for you or you do not pay them to carry them for you
  • you have travelled from or to Great Britain carrying goods either in your baggage or in a small vehicle that can carry up to no more than 9 people and weighing less than 3.5 tonnes

You have to make a declaration when taking goods out of and bringing them into Great Britain. The type of declaration depends on how much the goods are worth and how much they weigh.

From 1st July 2022, when bringing goods into GB, a 'Safety and Security' declaration will need to be submitted to HMRC if the goods are worth over £1500 and carried in a vehicle.

ISM Brexit advice pages