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MU Secures ATA Carnet Discounts for Touring Musicians

Whilst the MU lobbied hard against Brexit, the agreement reached with the EU means that currently ATA Carnets (a travel document needed for instruments and equipment) are a reality for musicians working in the EU.

Published: 11 February 2021 | 4:43 PM Updated: 22 July 2022 | 2:13 PM
Stack of travel cases used to transport musical equipment.
Both companies have offered generous discounts for MU members and will also assist with free advice before embarking upon the process. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The MU has been in discussion with two leading Carnet providers, the London Chamber of Commerce and Boomerang Carnets UK, a US company based in the UK. We are grateful for the support they have shown musicians in agreeing a package of discounts when acquiring an ATA Carnet for working in Europe and beyond.

Both companies have offered generous discounts for MU members and will also assist with free advice before embarking upon the process. We would advise talking through your needs with the relevant company first. (Please ensure you have your MU membership number to prove qualification for this valuable member-only benefit).

The discounts enable MU members to benefit from reduced fees, for example:

London Chamber of Commerce (LCC):

The cost of an ATA Carnet from the LCC for £10,000 worth of instruments travelling to and from the EU for two months (for any number of visits), will typically cost discounted amounts of £180 + VAT (total £216) for an issuing fee and £56 + VAT (total £67.20) for the security fee. Your Carnet will last a year and offers worldwide cover.


Estimate for an ATA Carnet, travel to and from the EU, two months’ duration, £10,000 value.

Basic application processing fee incl VAT £209.88

Security fee incl VAT (amount £4,000) £60.00

Total (estimate) £269.88

Members are recommended to contact the LCC and/or Boomerang to obtain a customised quotation. For details on how to claim either of these discounts, see our members’ discount page.

MU recommendations for travelling

In the meantime, if you are going to be travelling in the relatively near future – to avoid any musicians having difficulties at customs – we recommend acquiring an ATA Carnet just to be on the safe side. Please note, if you are travelling with instruments and equipment in a car or van, you will certainly need a Carnet.

The issues facing musicians include not only the possible need for work permits and/or visas, ATA Carnets for transporting instruments and equipment, but also the cabotage rules which restrict the number of stops for lorries originating from the UK.

The need to account for such administration is just one of the many reasons why the MU opposed Brexit. As the Union has been highlighting since the UK voted to begin the proceedings to exit the EU in 2016, the damage to the UK music industry was always likely to be significant. For working musicians, the increased administration and costs could potentially curb touring activity and make freelance work opportunities considerably more challenging.

Further lobbying

The MU continues to lobby hard for the best possible deal alongside organisations such as UK Music, the ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians) and the ABO (Association of British Orchestras) and to obtain clarity on all the issues facing touring musicians and the wider industry in 2021, with regards to our new relationship with the EU.

MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl says:

“We are very grateful to both the London Chamber of Commerce and Boomerang Carnets who have offered our members favourable terms and advice when applying for an ATA Carnet. We never wanted it to come to this, but we hope these schemes will help our members, who have been hit so hard by both Covid-19 and Brexit, to plan to work in the EU.”

Dave Webster, MU National Organiser for Live Performance, says:

“We campaigned hard to avoid the need for such bureaucracy, but we are now striving to find the best solutions possible to the increased costs and paperwork. It is reassuring that our members can call upon the expertise and services of these dedicated organisations and that some of the uncertainties and costs can be mitigated for our members.”

Curt E.H. Wilson, Managing Director of Boomerang Carnets UK, says:

“Boomerang Carnets is happy to announce a discount on ATA Carnets for musicians touring outside the UK. The discount is being offered through the British Musicians’ Union as an effort to ease the costs of touring for UK’s artists post-Brexit. Although touring in the EU poses some new challenges following Brexit when travelling to the EU with instruments and equipment, the E.U. is still a 1 carnet Customs territory. However, once you enter the EU with a Carnet, you will be able to traverse through the entire EU by presenting the Carnet on the way in and when coming out.”

For further details on how to apply for your discounted ATA Carnet through the London Chamber of Commerce or Boomerang UK, see our members’ discount page.

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