ISM | Visas and work permits in Europe Jump to main content

Visas and work permits in Europe

A digital guide for UK musicians

What is the difference between a visa and a work permit?

A visa is a document which gives a person the right to enter or leave the country or territory for which it was issued.

A work permit is a generic term for any legal authorisation which allows a person to take up employment.

It is important to note that some countries use the terms ‘visa’ and ‘permit’ interchangeably.

About this resource

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 visa-waiver regime. However, since 1 January 2021, UK nationals seeking to work in the EU are considered third-country nationals and may need a visa and/or work permit to do so. These rules are set by each member state.

In this digital guide, we provide an overview of the different requirements for entry visas and short-stay work permits for the 27 Member States of the EU together with Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. That includes details for non-Schengen Area countries like Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. Links are provided wherever possible to access further information and the details of all embassies are also included.

If you are planning tours which include countries in Europe not contained in this list, we recommend discussing this with an immigration expert. We also strongly recommend taking additional care with paperwork around the transportation of instruments and equipment to such countries to mitigate against issues at customs.

European COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Each country has its own set of rules, often with differences for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers. Some countries have cultural exemptions for performers or exemptions for students; others do not. Risk levels are constantly reviewed and therefore information can change at short notice.

Some countries require pre-departure forms or vaccination certificates to be uploaded to specific sites or apps within a specific number of days or hours before leaving the UK.

It is vital if you are planning to visit a European country for work that you check the requirements with the relevant Embassy or Consulate or the Re-open EU website in plenty of time to ensure you have all the relevant documentation.

Requirements by country

Need more complex touring advice?

ISM members can access free 30-minute consultations with Viva La Visa, offering expert advice in worldwide visa and work permit procurement.

Additional costs

In addition to the costs associated with visas and work permits, you may also need to factor in further costs for:

  • Copying of documents
  • Certification of copies
  • Translation of documents
  • Sending your passport to an embassy
  • Travelling to embassies or consulates. It is not clear if applications can be dealt with by honorary consulates outside of London.
  • Copies of bank statements (which may need to be certified)
  • Police certificate. These need to be requested from the ACRO Criminal Records Office. It costs £55 for a police certificate obtained within 10 days and £95 for a 2-day service.
  • COVID-19 and vaccine testing/certificates

Further resources for working in Europe

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 information provided in this guide is for your reference only and does not constitute legal or immigration advice. The ISM recommends that if you have any doubts about your eligibility to enter any country, you contact a suitably qualified migration expert for each individual country in good time prior to intended arrival.

A downloadable PDF version of the guide is also available: