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International Touring Guide

International touring often raises a complex range challenges for artists, now more than ever in a post Brexit and Covid-19 world.  The following guidance is provided to help you navigate some of the key issues that arise when planning overseas performances.


European Union: If touring within the EU as an Irish citizen or that of another EU member state, then Visas and ATA Carnet are not required. An ATA Carnet is an international customs document used for temporary export/import.  It is presented when entering a Carnet country with merchandise or equipment that will be re-exported within 12 months. Carnets are used for the temporary export of three types of goods to any of the other 77 carnet countries:

  • Commercial Samples
  • Goods for Trade Fairs or exhibitions
  • Professional Equipment

If you are a UK citizen, it is recommended that you confirm ATA Carnet and Visa requirements which may be required for international touring.  The Musicians’ Union in the UK provides a comprehensive touring checklist for UK based musicians. Similarly, if touring the EU without an EU passport it is recommended to check with industry and government sources in the country of your citizenship.

Non-EU European Countries: Non-EU countries such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein require ATA Carnet, however Visas should not be needed for EU citizens.

UK Oral Customs Declaration for Temporary Admission (Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015 / 2446 Articles 136, 163 and 165): Regulations post-Brexit are still being set, and both Irish and the UK customs are trying to find the best way to simplify procedures. For example, Irish customs recently implemented the Oral Export Declaration for some classes of goods being temporarily exported/imported. In the past oral declaration would generally have been used for the temporary admission of certain goods and was usually used for personal goods being imported by travellers. Now the oral declaration is required more regularly for various types of goods being imported from the UK (or from Ireland into the UK) and when goods are being temporarily exported etc.

Temporary admission rules and procedures: Article 136, Oral declaration for temporary admission and re-export (Article 158(2) of the Code) states that that only portable musical instruments can be temporarily exported under oral declaration. For example, if artist is travelling with their guitar, then no ATA carnet will be required but instead an oral/custom declaration for temporary admission will suffice. But if an artist/group is organising a lorry/van to transport all musical items (not portable) then an ATA carnet will be required. Unfortunately, customs rules are not fully set at this time so it not possible IMRO to fully confirm if a carnet is required or not for each specific case. Irish Customs are best positioned to provide you with up-to-date information and advice with regard to which option will be acceptable for your particular trip as each case is likely to be different.  Contact:

With regard to artist/band merchandise (for instance T-shirts and CDs etc.) these are consumable goods which means that on the way back to Ireland you probably won’t re-import them all (some might be sold at gigs or handed out) . If you are travelling only to the UK, then the best option for merchandise is to make an export declaration for them (not an ATA Carnet). Another scenario could be is an artist routing through the UK into another European country where they are selling merchandise or handing it out. In such cases, those goods can travel under ATA Carnet, but on the way back you will pay VAT for the goods you that you sold. ATA Carnets are not required when bringing musical instruments / merchandise cross-border into Northern Ireland and similarly from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland. Work visas are not required by Irish citizens travelling to the UK to perform or work. If you are unsure about your own particular circumstances you should check with Customs or Dublin Chamber for clarification.

Dublin Chamber is the national guaranteeing association for ATA Carnet for Ireland:

If you are working, performing and touring in the EU or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. from a base in the UK the following comprehensive checklist for artists and accompanying crew is vitally important.

It is strongly recommended that you check that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is up to date as this will ensure you are entitled to the same treatment as locals in state-run hospitals or should you need to visit a GP while visiting EU countries. An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance.


For non-US citizens, Visas are required travel to and tour within the USA.  There are several different types of US Visas for different types of touring and performances, these can also be complex, and entry requirements can change at short notice. It is therefore strongly recommended that you seek expert advice and guidance. The following organisations can be of assistance:

  • Tamizat – A US based non-profit organization that facilitates and advocates for international cultural mobility and exchange.
  • Artists from Abroad – An online guide to US artist Visas and Tax.
  • CoveyLaw – Brooklyn-based law firm that serves the legal needs of the domestic and international arts, non-profit, and business communities.

INSTRUMENTS: Each airline will differ on their policy regarding music instruments and storage. Some may require that you pay for an extra seat for an instrument or have restrictions regarding weight allowance for checked-in luggage. Some may allow an instrument to be an addition to or for others in place of hand baggage allowance. It is vital to check with your airline in advance their policy for the instruments you intend to bring. The International Federation of Musicians (FIM) provide a rating section for musicians to inform each other of their experiences of travelling with instruments on various airlines which may be useful. It is strongly recommended that any instrument insurance you may hold is up to date and covers international travel.

TAX Reclaiming Overseas Tax (e.g. Royalties etc): Most musicians travel these days to earn a living and it is important to minimise local withholding taxes on live performances which may be taxed as much as 35%. You should seek advice and assistance from specialist accountants and tax experts who could help minimise your tax liabilities and enable you to reclaim the maximum amount due.

Performances Abroad – Things You Need To Know To Make the Most of Your IMRO Membership: Although it is the responsibility of our affiliated societies to collect royalties on behalf of IMRO members in their territory and send them to us for distribution, it is possible that some performances of IMRO members’ music are not identified by the societies in question. This can happen primarily for two reasons. Either such performances may simply not be covered by the distribution policies of the societies in question or not enough information is provided to identify the performances. These policies vary from society to society and where a performance does not qualify it will not feature. IMRO makes every effort to ensure that “qualifying performances” in overseas territories do feature in the distributions of the societies concerned. We do this by notifying those societies of the full performance details when available. These include performances in the category classified by some societies as ‘Classical or Serious´ Music or ‘Live Symphonic and Recital´ performances. It is for this reason that we always urge our members to notify us of their foreign performances. Details of all such performances can be notified to us online through the members area of the IMRO website or by using the IMRO App.

The following information is essential when making a foreign performance notification:- Venue Name(s), Town/City, Country Post code (for all UK performances), Performance dates, Zip code (for all US performances), Promoter’s name (if applicable).

Performances cannot be notified without this information.

All foreign performances follow the same submission deadlines specified under the Tours and Residencies Scheme. Foreign performances need to be notified with a corresponding set list or details of the works performed in a concert programme which can be submitted online, along with the relevant Live Performance Notification (Gig List). The full and proper title, as registered with IMRO, together with the name of the composer(s) must be included. It is essential that all works on the set list have been registered. If you are in doubt as to whether some or all of the works on the set list have been registered or not, you can check online or contact a member of our distribution team.


LGBT+ and Female Musicians: While it should not be an issue for musicians of any gender or sexuality to perform or travel, unfortunately there can be differing attitudes and laws regarding sex and sexuality in certain countries. Even in countries that have de-criminalised homosexuality, passed protection laws for LGBT+ people and have made efforts in gender equality legislation, these laws may be ahead of social attitudes so it is necessary to research before travelling to be made aware of issues you may encounter while there. Extra precaution should be taken where possible.

  • Know where the nearest Embassy is for your country.
  • The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ILGA website provides up to date information and highlights potentially dangerous regions and countries.
  • Research local laws and customs of countries and regions.
  • Check any LGBT+ websites, forums or blogs for that region as they can offer first-hand information on social attitudes and areas to avoid.
  • Be aware that issues may arise if you are trans with a differing gender appearing in your official travel documents.
  • Ensure your travel plans and itinerary, as well as contact details for venues and hotels are with someone at home.
  • Have a plan of action in the worst case scenario that something does go wrong.


International showcases/conferences/festivals:

ESNS – Eurosonic (January 13th – 15th) – Programming partner: Music From Ireland
Deadline: Closed – open again in May 2022
How to apply:

SXSW (March 16th – 20th) – Programming partner: Music From Ireland
Deadline: Closed – open again in June 2022
How to apply:

Folk Alliance (February) – Programming partner: Culture Ireland
Deadline: Closed – Open again in May 2022
How to apply:

Mondo NYC – Programming partner: Music From Ireland
Deadline: Closed
How to apply:

Reeperbahn Festival – Programming partner: Music From Ireland
Deadline: Closed
How to apply:

Primavera – Programming partner: Music From Ireland
How to apply:

The Great Escape – Programming partner: Music From Ireland
Deadline: 13th Feb 2022
How to apply:

WOMEX – World Music Expo (October) – Programming partner: Culture Ireland
Deadline: Closed – reopening 2022
How to apply:

Celtic Connections, Glasgow (25th – 29th January) – Programming partner: Culture Ireland
Deadline: Closed – open again in 2022
How to apply:

M for Montreal – Programming partner: Culture Ireland
Deadline: Closed – reopening in 2022
How to apply:

Iceland Airwaves – Programming partner: Culture Ireland
Deadline: Application reopening March 2022
How to apply:

Ireland Week – School Night (LA) Programming partner: Music From Ireland


Culture-Sub Programme

Creative Europe (2021-2027) will support European creative sectors with a budget of €2.44 billion.

The Creative Europe programme 2021 – 2027 sets out common goals for the cultural and creative sectors. It puts a stronger emphasis on transnational creation, global circulation and promotion of European works, innovation across sectors, and ease of funding access through higher EU co-financing rates. All funded actions and projects should respect gender equality and the EU’s environmental commitments in the design and implementation of their activities

Information on structure of applications:


i-Portunus is a scheme funded by the European Commission that supports the mobility of artists, creators and cultural professionals, implemented by consortia of cultural organisations. It funds short-term mobilities for individuals to go abroad or for hosts to attract international talent.

i-Portunus’ main objective is to connect international artists, creators and cultural professionals and to support international collaborations among all countries participating in the Creative Europe Programme. It’s the “Erasmus” of the culture world.

How to apply:

European Border Breakers Award (EBBA)

The EBBA Awards go to emerging European pop acts that enjoy success in Europe beyond their own borders. The awards, now in their eighth year, are funded by the EU Culture Programme and Eurosonic-Noorderslag, in partnership with the European music industry and the European Broadcasting Union.

Music Moves Europe – Talent Awards (in collaboration with Reeperbahn and Eurosonic festivals)

More than 90 music projects (cooperation projects, platforms, networks) have so far received funding under the current Creative Europe programme (culture strand), with an approximate total budget of 57 million Euros.

Find inspiring examples of Creative Europe-funded music projects on the Creative Europe Project Results platform.

In its proposal for the new Creative Europe programme after 2020, the Commission introduced a sector-specific approach on music. According to the proposal, the support to the music sector would promote diversity, creativity and innovation in the field of music, in particular the distribution of musical repertoire in Europe and beyond

Helpful sources:

‘Music Moves Europe’ – A European Music Export Strategy – Author: European Commission (P143)

British Council – International Collaboration Grants:
3.5mil scheme between Britain and Ireland. Applications open 15th October. Close on 4th November.


Creative Europe Desk Ireland – Culture Office

Katie Lowry / Aoife Tunney
Tel: +353 1 6180200
The Arts Council
70 Merrion Square
Dublin 2

Music From Ireland,
(First Music Contact)
18 South Great Georges Street,
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 01 675 0529

Culture Ireland
Ciaran Walsh
Programme Manager
Commemorations and Showcases
+353 1 631 3994


Disclaimer This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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