What UK musicians will need when they work in Europe

What UK musicians will need when they work in Europe


norman lebrecht

December 28, 2020

The Incorporated Society of Musicians has produced a list of visa and work permit requirements for musicians on all countries on the European continent.

It’s comprehensive, and it may not be as bad as you feared.

It looks like France and Finland are the best, Germany is uncertain, Spain and Hungary are the worst.

Consult the list here.

On the other side of the coin, EU artists performing or teaching in the UK will require a Permitted Paid Engagement visa costing £95.

That’s the price of Brexit.


  • Alan says:

    But hey. They got their sovereignty back. And blue passports

  • BMT says:

    Penultimate sentence not correct: EU musicians WON’T usually need a visa to perform in the UK.

    They will need to follow the Permitted Paid Engagement route, which involves carrying paperwork when entering the UK. But applying for the PPE visa itself depends on that musician’s nationality is on the ‘visa nationals’ list, found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-visitor-visa-national-list

    For example: countries such as the USA and Canada are not on the list, and American/Canadian musicians don’t currently need a visa to perform in the UK.

    Musicians from EU countries will be treated the same way, since they are not being added to the ‘visa nationals’ list.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Rule number one for Brits, considering recent events i Switzerland: don’t escape from your hotel when you are in quarantine…

  • Miko says:

    Taking back control…
    of oblivion.
    Discussing the implications of brexit with leavers is like playing chess with a pigeon:
    First they knock all the pieces over, then crap on the board, and finally insist they’ve won.

    • V. Lind says:

      That’s been my experience, but I also despair of people who, four years later, can’t accept that the decision was taken and was not subject to appeal so the best thing to do was get behind seeing that the optimum deal was reached.

      • miko says:

        By the same “logic”, German voters were encouraged to get behind the National Socialists in 1932. A wrong is a wrong. Going with the crowd wont provide a place of safety for long.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      Discussing the implications of Brexit with a remainer is like playing Scrabble with an illiterate teenager!

    • Allen says:

      “First they knock all the pieces over, then crap on the board, and finally insist they’ve won.”

      Leavers? Other way around, Anna Soubry being a classic example.

      Meanwhile, another week another trade deal – something which we were told would take a decade.

      Future growth is in the Far East, Europe is becoming irrelevant. Get used to it.

  • Robert King says:

    Already having more than 150,000 signatures is a major petition requesting the UK Government to negotiate a free cultural work permit that gives visa free travel throughout the EU for music touring professionals, bands, musicians, artists, and more (including carnet exception for touring equipment). It would be great if all SD readers based in the UK would sign this:

    There is substantial guidance published by the Association of British Orchestras [ABO], created in collaboration with IAMA and UK Music, pooling resources and experience from all the major British orchestras, and UK and European artist managements. This is the current principal reference source for most touring orchestras and artist managements. In addition, the Musicians Union continue to be extremely active in lobbying at the highest levels for more clarity, and a greater urgency in seeking dispensations for continued ease of entry for UK performing musicians into Europe.

    Reading the ABO guidance for the umpteenth time, Spain and Germany actually look to be rather more welcoming to UK musicians than is suggested by SD (as does the Netherlands), whereas France actually looks to be rather more challenging administratively than SD indicates. But every country will be different. So however this works out, once touring is again possible, it will be a nervous moment each time musicians head through passport control (no more using the electronic gates – everyone will need to queue up for a manual check).

  • Pat says:

    No mention of withholding tax…. each country can choose the amount and it can be as much as 40% of the fee?

    • Robert King says:

      Withholding tax and social charges have always been deducted for UK musicians working in EU countries, at different percentages, with different starting points, and with differing levels of administrative complexity (tax harmonisation within individual countries being beyond the remit of the EU). But social charges in particular will be more complicated for UK musicians with the UK leaving the EU as the A-1 (formerly the E101) won’t weave its former magic. So that’s another obstacle for UK musicians that will cost us more and ensure we bring less money into the UK economy.