Government must cover additional costs for musicians that they will incur in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Today (Wednesday 14 August) the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) calls on the government to cover any additional costs that musicians will incur when travelling to the EU27/EEA for work in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A no-deal Brexit will cause major disruption to the UK’s music industry which is worth £4.5 billion to the UK economy. The lack of transitional arrangements in a no-deal scenario will result in chaos for many of those who have to travel to the EU for work – and freelance, touring musicians, often on low earnings will be amongst the hardest hit.

The ISM has calculated that musicians who travel to the EU27 and carry an instrument will incur additional costs of up to £1,000 per year in a no-deal Brexit.

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.

Musicians will also face numerous additional costs including:

  • Private medical insurance, which would become essential in a no-deal Brexit 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 A1 forms become obsolete on 1 November, 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.

Tasmin Little OBE, violinist, said:

‘A musician’s life is based around travel, therefore, ease of movement is an essential requirement. Any country that values a rich cultural and musical life understands that diversity is only possible if musical communities remain international; and this can only happen if there is absolute freedom to travel, both with regard to planned tours as well as last-minute engagements.

It is as essential for musicians from the UK to travel abroad with ease, as it is for artists from outside the UK to enter the country to work. The amount of red tape is increasing to an enormous proportion, and this is beginning to have a major negative impact on musicians, both in terms of time spent as well as the cost involved. We call upon the government to understand these issues, ease these difficulties and enable us to continue to give our best and do our jobs without hindrance and excessive extra costs.’

Jeremy Huw Williams, President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘As revealed in the ISM’s report, Impact of Brexit on musicians, a large proportion of musicians’ earnings comes from working within the EU. Therefore in the event of a no-deal Brexit there will be significant uncertainty over the terms under which musicians would be subject to when travelling to the EU for work. This uncertainty threatens the livelihoods of thousands of UK-based musicians who rely on touring in EU countries for work, which is terribly concerning for our membership of almost 10,000 professional musicians. As detailed, there will be significant additional costs that musicians, who operate on slim margins, will not be able to afford. We call on the government to fully cover these costs in advance of 31 October, or at the very least provide a full compensation scheme to support musicians in the first three years following Brexit, at the very least.’

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

'As we know from our professional musician members, the majority of musicians do not have the capacity to absorb additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, such as visa fees. These costs would be impossible for most freelance musicians, who earn on average around £20,000 per year. They would simply be unable to allocate up to 5% of their earnings to additional costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Musicians must be protected in the event of a no-deal and we urge the government to clarify.'

The ISM has provided an advice guide for members in the event of the UK leaving the EU on 31 October without a deal. ISM members can visit the advice page at ism.org/Brexit.

The ISM’s Brexit Essentials Kit available for members contains a range of services and discounts for musicians to get organised and save money when they are working in the UK, Europe and internationally. The kit includes discounts on visa services, carnets, travel insurance and more.

Deborah Annetts speaking on Sky News

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