Brexit: what it means for you

The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016.

After a deal was signed between the UK and the EU, the UK will be leaving on Friday 31 January 2020 and entering into a transitional period which will end on 31 December 2020.

However, there remains a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the possibility of the UK leaving the EU with a 'bare bones' Brexit deal on 31 December 2020.

Therefore, it is essential for you to think carefully about what Brexit could mean for your work, especially if you travel regularly to the EU27/EEA.

While your rights as an EU citizen currently remain unchanged, large organisations, micro-businesses and freelancers are all making preparations for Brexit.

Even if we exit the EU with a comprehensive, all-encompassing deal, current freedom of movement rules will end for UK citizens, meaning that it will be more expensive and more complicated for musicians and their instruments to cross borders. Pre-existing contracts with EU partners will need to be reviewed, as pieces of legislation could cease to apply after Brexit, meanings of definitions and terminology used in contracts might change and there may be financial consequences arising from fluctuations in currency, as well as new costs.

We have calculated that musicians who travel to the EU27/EEA and carry an instrument may incur additional costs of up to £1,000 per year in the worst case, post-transition period Brexit scenario.

Musicians may be required to purchase carnets – temporary international customs documents that allow instruments and sound equipment to move temporarily outside the UK – which cost in the region of £500-700, depending on the value of the goods. It is currently possible to take instruments to countries in the EU for free and purchasing an ATA Carnet is a significant extra cost to be forced upon musicians and will become a huge barrier for many musicians touring the EU27/EEA.

Musicians may also face numerous additional costs including:

  • Private medical insurance, which would become a necessity in certain Brexit scenarios as EHIC provision would cease, would set a musician without a pre-existing medical condition back around £70 per year, but it could be as high as £320 for a musician with a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Musical Instrument Certificates, which are only required for instruments containing endangered species according to CITES (including ivory, rosewood, tortoiseshell) are currently free but are set to incur a charge in 2020 (amount unknown). Examples: some violin bows contain ivory and some guitars contain rosewood.
  • Musicians who drive to the continent will need to purchase an International Driving Permit costing £5.50.
  • If UK-issued A1 forms become obsolete on 1 January 2021, musicians must also ensure that they are not liable for double deductions of social security payments in other EU countries by contacting the relevant EU social security institution to check.
  • If visas are introduced to work in the EU27/EEA, this is likely to cause considerable financial and administrative burden to musicians.

In the articles below, we look at these issues in greater detail to help you understand how your work may be affected and to help you create contingency plans.

For further information, please read the Government's advice on the UK exiting the EU, which covers various topics.

Updated 28 January 2020.

Northern Ireland and Brexit

Read our advice about the complications that could face members travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for work.

Updated January 2020

'Bare bones' deal: instruments in transit

Read our advice for transporting instruments into the EU, if there is not a comprehensive deal arranged with the EU following the UK's departure from the EU.

Updated January 2020

Brexit and contracts

How to Brexit-proof future or existing contracts with EU organisations.

Updated August 2019

Brexit essentials kit for ISM members

From visas to car hire, accommodation to advice, we've highlighted a range of member services to help you get organised and save money when you're working in the UK, Europe and beyond.

Updated August 2019

Recent ISM Brexit statements

Save Music campaign

The ISM's Save Music campaign is calling for freedom of movement to be maintained for musicians after Brexit, or the introduction of a two-year working visa. Watch and share the video below, and visit the website to find out more and sign up as a campaign supporter.

ISM Brexit research

Listen to our Brexit podcasts

We are joined by two musicians who share their personal experiences as travelling musicians and they tell us how Brexit has already impacted their work. We also hear the headline findings from our Impact of Brexit on musicians report.

We spoke to Annabella Coldrick Chief Executive of the Music Managers Forum (MMF) about the impact of Brexit on the music industry, specifically from the Music Managers perspective and the possible issues touring artists and the industry will face.