Visas for UK touring artists to Spain have been waived in an initiative driven by LIVE, ABO and their Spanish counterparts


Photo © Mikhail Nilov 

Musicians touring to Spain from the UK will no longer need visas for short-term engagements. The turnaround follows months of work from Live Music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE) and the Association for British Orchestras (ABO), alongside their Spanish counterparts Asociación Promotores Musicales and key industry players including Live Nation Spain.

Earlier this year, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had announced visa-free ‘short term’ touring in a list of 19 EU countries, from which Spain was omitted. Visas have been a significant issue for Spain which, despite representing the fifth largest live music market in the world, posed the most costly and complicated visa application process across the bloc for artists looking to travel for short-term work.

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The development represents a significant boost for the sector which has, as a result of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, seen European touring become more expensive, more complicated, and more difficult to execute from the UK.

Until now, artists and their promoters have had to make applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish, provide itinerary details before having even been given the green light for the tour to go ahead – including accommodation and flight allocations – and give proof of applicant earnings of up to nearly £1,000 before having left the country. It would take over a month for a decision to be reached, making long term scheduling – vital for successful international touring – impossible.

Craig Stanley, chair of the LIVE Touring Group, said, ’We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish Government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications. A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve as an industry when we work together’

However, he called for further action regarding remaning restrictions on other countries: ’We are calling on the Government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union’. 

The director of ABO Mark Pemberton echoed the need for further negotiations, ’Touring artists still face restrictions on touring in Spain: a three stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return to home and a hugely expensive goods passport (a “carnet”), including a bond for instruments and equipment’

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