Post-Brexit rules for touring artists and bands in the UK have the potential to be complex - here we look at key aspects of UK immigration rules for the creative sector. Following Brexit, the rules that allowed people to live and work freely throughout the EU have changed. But how will this affect bands and artists who wish to perform in the UK? Latitude Law’s Gary McIndoe and Gemma Tracey outline everything you need to know.
What Post-Brexit rules mean for Touring Musicians and Creatives
The last gig I attended was way back in January 2020 – it seems like an age ago that live music was a part of my life. I’ve enjoyed a few online events during the pandemic, but nothing can replace the thrill of the crowd, the immediacy and intimacy of watching a band or artist perform in a space full of like-minded individuals.
From 1 January 2021, another obstacle to live performance enters stage left in the form of the end of the Brexit transition period. There’s no change for non-EU artists, but for European acts touring the UK major changes come into play.
What if I’ve already spent time in the UK before 31 December 2020?
To begin with, it is worth noting that any EU national who commenced a period of residence in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 may be eligible to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. As a general rule, you should have been here for at least 1 day in the 6-months preceding the date you apply. The deadline for such applications is 30 June 2021.
If successful, the individual will receive permission to remain (known as pre-settled status) for 5 years, and can engage in any activity they choose. This can lead to settled status (indefinite permission to remain) after 5 years continuous residence in the UK.
If you don’t want to live in the UK permanently, as long as you travel here at least once every 2 years, your pre-settled status will still allow you to travel and live in the UK for as long as you wish throughout the validity of your pre-settled status. Activities in the UK will not be monitored; it’s fine to work and receive payment from UK promoters, for example.
Pre-settled status can be applied for from inside or outside of the UK, and Latitude Law would strongly recommend those who have commenced a period of residence prior to 31 December 2020 to seek advice about the route and possibly proceed with an application if eligible.
What Rules will apply to musicians entering the UK to perform from 1 January 2021?
Following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, all EU nationals seeking to travel to the UK, either temporarily or permanently, must comply with our domestic immigration laws; the same rules and guidance that non-EU nationals currently comply with.
Options include travelling to the UK as a visitor or securing permission to enter with reference to the UK’s Points Based visa rules.
Visit Options for the United Kingdom
Visitors can travel to the UK for up to 6 months at any one time. The route is for those who are travelling to the UK for a limited period of time and who do not wish to make the UK their permanent home. The activities a visitor can undertake in the UK are limited; it’s important that those visiting the UK only undertake permitted activities (as general visitors) or a permitted paid engagement, otherwise future travel may be jeopardised.
A standard visitor can undertake certain permitted activities. Note the starting point that you cannot be paid for engagements in the UK unless an exception applies. For musicians, artists and entertainers (and their personal, technical or production team), this includes:
- Performances as an individual or as part of a group
- Competitions or auditions
- Making personal appearances and taking part in promotional activities
So who can undertake paid work in the United Kingdom?
Only those coming to:
- Undertake a permitted paid engagement
- Perform at a permit-free festival or event
Note that those coming to the UK to undertake a permitted paid engagement must not use an e-Passport gate and must secure leave to enter from a border official.
Within the music industry, all permitted paid engagements must be supported by an invitation from a UK-based creative organisation, agent or broadcaster, and the activity undertaken by the Applicant must directly relate to their profession.
Points-Based Entry – T5 Creative Temporary Workers
Under our Points Based System, the T5 (Creative and Sporting) route would enable an individual to remain in the UK for up to 12 months, but sponsorship is required from a UK organisation which holds a sponsor licence. An organisation in the UK will be able to sponsor workers under this category of the Rules if the creative worker is in a shortage occupation or will make a unique contribution to the UK, for example, the individual is internationally renowned.
Are visas necessary, and how can I secure one?
For EU citizens the answer is generally no. Those arriving as standard visitors (undertaking permitted activities) from 1 January 2021 will be able to use the e-Passport gates to enter the UK, subject to the exception mentioned above.
It is open to standard visitors and those undertaking permitted paid engagements to apply for a UK visitor visa prior to travelling to the UK – this might be advisable in certain circumstances, for example where the individual has a criminal conviction.
We’d generally advise that individuals can seek leave to enter upon arrival if they are of good character, have complied with UK immigration requirements previously and are travelling with the correct documentation. Documents should include their passport and a letter which must contain relevant information about the visit and payment where applicable.
If the visitor would prefer to secure a visa prior to travelling, perhaps because they have a criminal conviction or may have breached immigration laws in the UK or another country previously, or just for clarity, this would involve the submission of an online application which must be supported by documentary evidence.
T5 sponsored workers must receive a certificate of sponsorship before they travel. It is not always necessary to get a visa in advance of travel – essentially where you are coming to the UK for an engagement or series of engagements lasting less than 3 months, and you hold a valid certificate of sponsorship from a UK promoter or company.
How much do applications cost?
If seeking permission to enter as a visitor undertaking a permitted activity or permitted paid engagement on arrival, no fee is payable. If an application for entry clearance is submitted prior to their travel to the UK, a visit visa application will attract an application fee of £95 for a standard 6-month visitor visa.
T5 applications attract an application fee of £189 and an Immigration Health Surcharge of £624.
Will band or artist managers coming to the UK for meetings need a visa or additional travel documentation?
A standard visitor can attend meetings, and can sign and negotiate contracts. These are permitted activities, so an EU-national manager hoping to undertake these activities in the UK can use an e-Passport gate upon arrival.
Are there any other restrictions that EU artists should consider when travelling to the UK from 2021?
If travelling as a visitor, the activities a visitor can undertake are limited, and breaching a condition could result in permission being curtailed or cancelled. This is likely to make it difficult to secure permission to enter as a visitor in the future. The activities discussed above are an overview of the creative activities which are permitted; we’d strongly advise artists and their managers to seek advice prior to travelling to the UK so no time or money is wasted.
Learn more about touring, living and working in the United Kingdom
The immigration lawyers at Latitude Law have been providing invaluable specialist advice and legal representation to clients since 2007.
Latitude’s specialist team is ready to answer your questions, and to support you working and touring in the UK from 2021. Reach out and request a consultation today.