Returning to work: Touring Jump to main content

Returning to work: Touring

As the UK Government continues to relax COVID-19 restrictions and introduces new rules around quarantining, we take a closer look at touring. Find out what you'll need to consider before your trip, and discover ISM resources that can help you to plan international performances.

The current situation

On Thursday 8 July, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced changes to the quarantine system for residents in England, which will mean that from Monday 19 July, those who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccination ('double-jabbed') and children will no longer need to self-isolate on returning from amber list countries.

Our country-specific COVID-19 advice pages continue to be updated regularly. Check the pages for the most up-to-date information about restrictions in your area:

What you'll need to consider:

Visas and work permits

Following the UK's departure from the European Union, there is currently no EU-wide visa or work permit agreement in place, meaning that you may need to make separate arrangements for each individual country you visit within Europe.

The ISM has produced the music industry's most comprehensive guide summarising the visa and work permit requirements for UK performers touring in Europe.

ISM members can also access our visa and work permit advice service, delivered in partnership with experts Viva la Visa. They can offer advice on your individual situation, helping you to navigate the required work permits and visas in the country or countries you are visiting on your work trip.

Travelling with instruments

The Government has issued guidance in which is confirms that musical instruments or equipment which are ‘accompanied’ (carried in an individual’s personal baggage or in a vehicle and transported by that individual throughout the journey) can go through the green ‘nothing to declare’ channel. This applies to both personal and business use. However, in other circumstances it may be necessary to purchase an ATA Carnet - an international customs document that allows you to temporarily import equipment or good for events.

The ISM is a member of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an issuing body for ATA Carnets, and has secured discounted rates for ISM members.

Musical instrument certificates for protected materials

CITES regulations can apply to musical instruments built with protected materials such as Bubinga, Brazilian rosewood, ivory, abalone and tortoiseshell, and these may require documentation and permits to import, export and travel across borders.

ISM members can access further information about CITES and musical instrument certificates in our guide Brexit: Travelling with instruments and equipment.

Insurance and healthcare

From 1 January 2021, the UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid after the card expiry date for most UK citizens (apart from, for example, UK students who started a course in the EU before the end of 2020).

The Government is issuing a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which entitles you to free or discounted medical treatment when you are in an EU country. It is important to note that the GHIC card is not a replacement for travel insurance, and this should also be arranged in advance of travel.

You can find out more information and how to apply for the GHIC card on GOV.UK.

Looking after your mental health

The COVID-19 lockdowns have been very tough on music professionals, and the easing of restrictions may provoke feelings of anxiety. If you have concerns about travelling or touring internationally, or any other topic that is causing you stress, the ISM offers its members access to a free, 24-hour personal support and advice helpline staffed by qualified counsellors. If further support is needed, you can also arrange six sessions of structured telephone counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Returning to performing in front of live audiences may feel daunting. If this is the case for you, the ISM Trust's publication Play: A psychological toolkit for optimal music performance might be helpful to you. This comprehensive resource takes an in-depth look at performance anxiety, and offers practical strategies and insights from research into both music and sport.

Further resources