What type of visa is required by a touring musician?

23 Nov 2023, 38 mins ago

There are several immigration routes which allow musicians to perform in the UK, but not all are relevant for touring musicians. If you wish to tour in the UK, the options you should consider are the Permitted Paid Engagement route, the Standard Visitor route or the Creative Worker route.

Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor

As a Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) Visitor, you would be able to stay in the UK for up to one month in order to participate in a permitted activity to which you have been invited by a UK-based organisation or client. You have to be able to prove that you will be able to support yourself or that someone else can, and that you are not planning on staying in the UK for long and/or frequent visits. The work you do must be paid and related to your profession, which means that if you want to use this route to play music in the UK, you must be a musician and be able to prove that you do this for a living. This can be established through a letter from your employer confirming your main job in your home country. You cannot do any non-music related paid work during your stay in the UK. To be eligible for this visa, a UK-based organisation, in this case – an organisation in the arts or entertainment industries,  must provide you with a formal written invitation to perform in the UK. Depending on your nationality, you may not need a visa to participate in a PPE in the UK. In this case, you must get a stamp in your passport from the Border Force officer when you enter the UK, rather than using the e-gates. The Border Force officer will check that:

  • you meet the eligibility requirements
  • you have an invitation from a relevant UK-based organisation or client
  • the paid engagement relates to your expertise, qualifications and main job

You can check if you need a visa before travelling using the link here

Standard Visitor

The Standard Visitor route allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months and take part in a limited number of activities relating to tourism, volunteering, travel, business, studies and medical care. The most relevant part of this route for musicians is that, as a Standard Visitor, you may stay in the UK and perform for 6 months without requiring a visa if you are performing at one of the Home Office’s approved permit-free festivals (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/-immigration-rules-appendix-visitor-permit-free-festival-list).This list includes events ranging from Glastonbury to Glyndebourne, however, it may not apply to you if your location of performance is not covered in the list.

Creative Worker Visa

If you are considering a more permanent move to work in the UK as a musician, rather than just performing at a one-off event, you can explore whether the Creative Worker visa route is suitable for you. A Creative Worker is someone who can make a unique contribution to the UK’s rich cultural life, for example, as an artist, dancer, musician or entertainer, or as a model contributing to the UK’s fashion industry. You can be granted permission for up to 12 months initially and then apply to extend your stay up to a maximum of two years if you are still working for the same sponsor. You may even be eligible to work in the UK without applying for a visa in advance under this category if you have a valid certificate of sponsorship, your work in the UK is for 3 months or less, and you do not normally need a visa to enter the UK as a visitor (non-visa national), subject to meeting other requirements.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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