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Guidance on crossing EU border

General advice on working in the EU

  • The MU has put together an interactive flowchart for musicians travelling to the EU to guide you through the new regulations following Brexit and assist in making sure you have the correct documentation prior to setting off. See the flowchart
  • The UK government have released a set of guidance for musical artists and accompanying staff. Please do get in touch with the MU if there is anything within this Government information that is either unclear or you do not understand. We can take that back to Government and seek clarity.
  • MU members can get visa and work permit advice from Viva La Visa, who have a free advice line available from 1 June 2024. Contact them on 01473 892 660 or email MU members can also get a 20% discount should they engage in the services of Viva La Visa. Contact them directly for more information.

Find out more of what the MU does for musicians working in the EU from MU Head of International Dave Webster:

ATA Carnets

Musicians who now require ATA Carnets for travel should take advantage of the MU Member exclusive discounts available through the London Chamber of Commerce (LCC) or Boomerang.

Watch the latest webinar on the ins and outs of ATA Carnets.

What is GMR and do you need one?

Updated October 2023

The MU has been looking into this issue. In 2022 reports came in that musicians with ATA Carnets were being asked for a GMR when getting their paperwork stamped.

A GMR is a Goods Movement Reference Number. There is a lot of confusion as to whether this is a requirement or not for those musicians travelling together, accompanying their instruments and equipment in vehicles and in possession of an ATA Carnet.

The Government has introduced the GVMS – Goods vehicle Movement System. The GVMS links your Carnet or Customs Declaration to your vehicle. There are certain ports and IBF’s that adopt these systems and it’s here where you will be asked to have a GMR to hand to accompany your Carnet. Not having one can lead to significant delays.

Depending on who you speak to and at which Inland Border Facility (IBF) or port you go to it seems the message is not clear.

The ports which use the GVMS are, amongst others, Eurotunnel, Dover, Holyhead. Other ports may not be GVMS registered, in which case you won't be asked for one. Some ports may not require a GMR for outbound but do for inbound. View the full list of ports using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

Further discussions in January 2023 revealed that if you are travelling via the passenger route on Stenna Line ferries, then a GMR is NOT needed. The same has been confirmed by South Wales Border Force on the Fishguard to Rosslare route.

GMRs are generally required when booking as freight and are a requirement of the Ferry company. However, a Border Force official may well ask you for one if you have an ATA Carnet whether you are travelling as passenger OR freight.

We strongly advise when making your booking that you check with the carrier as to whether they require you to have a GMR.

View the MU video webinar from Business West regarding ATA Carnets, which explains more about GMRs. The section on GMRs is at 1’:15”:30.

Members can access Carnet advice and discounted Carnets via the Member Benefits page. Boomerang have also told us that they can organise a GMR, as can the London Chamber of Commerce and Business West.

Read more from the UK Government and apply for a GMR if you are required to get one.

Healthcare for UK nationals visiting the EU

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) mean that you are entitled to the same treatment as locals should you need to attend state-run hospitals or GP surgeries when visiting EU countries. Neither the EHIC card or the GHIC card are a replacement for travel insurance

Find out more about healthcare for UK nationals visiting the EU

Paying Social Security when working in the EU

The rules on this will vary depending on the kind of work you’re undertaking and where you are working. See the UK Government’s website for specific advice.

MU members can watch musician-specific video guidance.

Reporting lost work

MU members can always contact the MU for advice. Please do also report any specific issues or incidences of lost work to them – as the Government is asking for evidence for our arguments.

Things to consider to be well prepared

  • Some of the administration can be completed in advance of work being offered, such as a valid passport and a range of insurances, including instrument and equipment cover, PLI, and business travel insurance.
  • Be aware, you will need to check the requirements for each of the member states you will be visiting as they often differ from each other. Follow the link in the flowcharts under ‘Work Permits.’
  • If you require a CITES Musical Instrument Certificate, we recommend obtaining one immediately. The Certificate lasts for three years and currently there is no charge.
  • Where individual musicians are travelling alone to or from a gig, or between tours or different gigs, part of their travel may have been organised by a tour manager. It is key to establish who is responsible for acquiring and paying for the relevant documentation, insurance, carnets, visas etc.
  • If you are flying out to join a tour, you may not have proof of a ‘return journey’ because you intend coming back with the group. We recommend liaising in advance with the tour management to avoid any oversights.
  • Remember that securing the correct ‘paperwork’ once you have left the UK can be extremely difficult.

N.B. Musicians are encouraged to seek further advice from the appropriate authorities to ensure the relevant documentation is obtained. See the example here.

Please visit the MU website regularly for the latest information, as travel requirements are subject to change.

Further information points:

Funding to help with touring 

If you are thinking of undertaking a tour, then there is some funding available through the Arts Council England and Help Musicians. Further information on funding can be found via The Unsigned Guide’s Essential Guide to Music Funding.

Latest highlights

Latest news on touring

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Representing Our Scottish Members at STUC Congress 2024

This week we attended the annual Scottish Trades Union Congress with MU Delegates Christine Cooper and Ben Lunn, who discussed the importance of music education, community arts in Scotland and establishing a Music Expo Office for the country. All three of our motions were passed unanimously.

Published: 18 April 2024

Read more about Representing Our Scottish Members at STUC Congress 2024
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Take Part in the MU’s New Survey on Touring in the EU Post Brexit

Your answers are key to helping us assess the impact leaving the EU has had on touring musicians, and if our specialist information and guidance has been useful or needs improving. Your feedback is also vital in shaping our work when liaising with government.

Published: 03 April 2024

Read more about Take Part in the MU’s New Survey on Touring in the EU Post Brexit

Member services for travelling musicians

Free Visa & Work Permit Advice

Access Viva La Visa's free advice line for guidance on visas, work permits or travel documentation for touring abroad. Members also receive a 20% discount on any services.

Read more about Free Visa & Work Permit Advice

Contract Advisory Service

Protect yourself against unpaid fees by making sure that your tour or engagement is covered by a written contract. Have it vetted by the MU for added peace of mind.

Read more about Contract Advisory Service