Spain scraps visa requirements for touring British musicians

17 November 2021, 17:56

Let Music Live protest on London's Parliament Square

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

The dramatic rule change comes after months of dedicated work from two UK music industry giants, in a deal hailed as a “big victory”.

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Spain is scrapping post-Brexit visa requirements for UK artists on short-term tours, in a move which has been welcomed by the wider music industry.

British touring musicians and their crew will no longer need visas if they are touring in Spain for less than 90 days.

The dramatic rule change follows months of campaigning by the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) and LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment), who worked with the Asociación Promotores Musicales, and other key industry players such as Live Nation Spain, to lobby the Spanish government for change.

Previously, visas had been a significant issue for musicians when it came to Spain, the fifth largest live music market. In a post-Brexit world, entering the country for short-term work meant having to complete a costly and complicated application.

Mark Pemberton, the director of ABO, said that the organisation was, “delighted the Spanish Government [had] introduced a visa waiver for live performance.

“We have already heard from member orchestras that had had to go through the painful and expensive process of securing visas for their musicians these past months,” he says, “and this will be welcome news for those orchestras with impending tours. It means we can continue to bring the best of British music-making to Spain.”

Read more: UK government accused of ‘misleading’ musicians over EU visas and Brexit arrangements

While many in the industry are relieved to see this move, others have added there is still a long way to go to return to the touring freedom which musicians enjoyed pre-Brexit.

Craig Stanley, chair of the LIVE Touring Group, added to today’s announcement, by calling on the government to follow LIVE’s lead, and “urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that [musicians] can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union.”

The news comes after last month’s government announcement that 20 European Union member states confirmed they would offer visa and work permit free routes for UK musicians and performers.

There are now six remaining member states that still do not offer UK musicians visa-free short-term touring.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries welcomed the news of Spain’s addition to the member states allowing UK musicians to enter visa-free, on Twitter. In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, she shared that her department, “have been working closely with the Spanish government to make touring easier – and they’ve just confirmed that musicians no longer need visas to go on short-term tours”.

Read more: ‘Era of being a UK-based concert artist is pretty much over’ – musicians share their Brexit realities

Music industry heads have said there is still a long way to go, as the scrapping of visa requirements in European Union member states is just one of the issues associated with post-Brexit touring. But this move is being seen as a “positive step-forward” by many.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO of UK Music, was another industry leader to welcome the Spanish government’s decision to tear up visa restrictions facing UK artists and crew, but he added that it was, “important to remember that major issues still remain”.

Read more: 69,000 jobs in UK music industry wiped out by devastating impact of Covid-19

“We will continue to press the case with the Government here and with EU nations to remove all the costly and bureaucratic restrictions that remain when it comes to touring the EU.” he assured.

“It is vital for our economy and exports that musicians and crew can tour freely, grow their fanbase and share the very best of British music across Europe and the rest of the world”.