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Touring EU Artists To Require Visas To Play In The UK From 2021
Christian Eede , February 20th, 2020 13:59

The rule will come in from January next year when the Brexit transition period is over

Musicians from EU countries will require work visas to play in the UK starting from next year.

The rule, which will come into force in January 2021 following the end of the Brexit transition period this December, means that bands, DJs and solo musicians will all require Tier 5 visas in order to play gigs, festivals and club nights in the UK. The rule, the Home Office says, also applies to musicians' crews as Brexit puts an end to free movement between the UK and EU countries.

Further to gigs, festivals, club nights and other promotional activities, the rule will apply to artists who attend workshops and give talks about their work. This will likely see greater costs shifted onto attendees of various events, with current rules allowing touring EU artists to perform in the UK without a visa or work permit, and vice versa.

Former Culture Minister Nigel Adams (he was moved to the Foreign Office and Department for International Development in last week's cabinet reshuffle) expressed concern last month over the possibility of introducing visas for touring EU performers, saying "it's absolutely essential that free movement for artists is protected post-2020." He added that "touring is absolutely the lifeblood of the industry."

UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl said of the move, which is a result of Home Secretary Priti Patel's new points-based immigration system: "New plans confirm that from 2021 EU musicians coming to the UK for concerts and festivals will be treated in the same way as those from the rest of the world.

"This will drag some agents and promoters into the immigration system for the first time and increases the possibility that member states introduce new bureaucratic hoops for UK musicians to jump through when seeking to perform across the EU."

It's not yet known exactly what costs may have to be shouldered by artists, agents and promoters as a result of the changes. Some music industry groups in the UK have called for a two-year, multi-entry working visa to allow artists to travel freely around the EU and the UK for work, but such wishes have been ignored.

You can find more information on the Home Office's new immigration system, which was announced yesterday (February 19), here.