Brexit update: January 2021 Jump to main content

Brexit update: January 2021

The Brexit deal between the UK and the EU was agreed and passed into law on 30 December. Whilst No Deal would have been disastrous for the UK economy, the agreement does not include any provisions for the creative services industry. This adds a great deal of red tape to touring musicians and has the potential to be extremely damaging to the music industry.

Since the Brexit referendum, the ISM was at the forefront lobbying tirelessly to protects the interests of touring musicians. Working closely with MPs, civil servants and government departments, we have highlighted the increasing impact of Brexit in five pioneering reports and called consistently for arrangements to enable musicians to continue touring easily in Europe.

Despite our greatest efforts, UK musicians now face new administrative hurdles and additional costs, which threaten the viability of working in the EU and individual livelihoods on top of the huge challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

What does the Brexit deal mean for musicians?

  • Short-term work: There are no provisions in the Agreement accounting for the nature of UK musicians' short-term work. This means that UK musicians seeking to work in the EU will be considered third-country nationals and will therefore need to meet the various requirements of each member state. ​We have created a resource with an overview of each country's requirements.
  • Healthcare: An alternative document to the EHIC will be decided upon 'in due course', making healthcare for short-term stays in the EU free in most cases. In the meantime, existing EHICs are valid until the expiry date.
  • Social security: ​EU member states will decide whether to opt-in to ​cross border workers and employers only being liable to pay social security contributions in one state at a time. This will avoid some of the duplication of social security rules and additional costs. ​HMRC have stated that the full list of countries' positions on this will be available at the end of January.
  • Customs: declarations become necessary straight away. For musicians travelling with instruments and/or equipment, this means obtaining ATA Carnets (the cost varies depending on value of instruments - calculate a quote here). From 1 January 2021 this document will become necessary for the movement of certain UK goods within the EU. ATA Carnets may be necessary for travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A Duplicate List, an alternative method to temporarily export goods to the countries that do not recognise ATA Carnets. More information on applying can be found on the London Chamber of Commerce website, and further information on ATA Carnets and Duplicate List. Some instruments require a Music Instrument Certificate (and if so, must transit through certain ports listed here).
  • Logistics: Under the new FTA rules, reduced cabotage’s for hauliers over 3.5 tonnes operating in the EU from the UK will now be permitted a maximum of 3 internal movements. This will prove extremely difficult for tour operators hoping to facilitate tours organised from the UK in the EU.

The absence of mobility provisions for musicians is extremely concerning given that repeated assurances were provided by the government throughout 2020 that they understood the need for frictionless travel for UK musicians post Brexit and would be negotiating with the EU an ambitious agreement to achieve this objective. We believe these assurances were disingenuous as a ‘Canada style’ trade deal was never going to offer a viable route for touring musicians. We have captured a timeline of events in a recent Twitter thread.

What is the ISM doing on your behalf?

  • Advice: We understand just how distressing this is for members and over the Christmas period we updated our advice pages to provide clear information about the changes from January 01. This includes the only comprehensive document providing an overview of the different requirements for short-stay work permits of each country in the EU/EEA area. We are also running a webinar for members on January 11 to discuss what the deal means for musicians. When work abroad becomes possible again, we will be updating members on the practical things they need to do.
  • Lobbying: As an immediate priority we are lobbying the Government to be fully transparent as to the nature of those negotiations and explain what steps will be taken to support the UK music sector post-Brexit. We have already attended meetings with senior civil servants and briefed MPs and Lords ahead of crucial debates taking place in Parliament.
  • Research: We will be closely monitoring the impact of the Brexit deal on musicians’ livelihoods to inform our lobbying work.

Make your voice heard

We will not stop fighting to protect the interests of the music sector but we need your help to amplify the voice of musicians. You can do this by:

1. Attending our webinar on January 11 to learn more about how the practicalities of Brexit deal

2. Using our template letter to lobby your local MP to protect the interests of musicians in Parliament

3. Signing this petition calling for a Europe-wide Visa-free work permit for Touring professionals and Artists