Important Updates on EU Touring

06 October 2021

Important updates on EU touring – Splitter vans are no longer covered by the TCA and more detailed information on ATA Carnets

As the live sector is waking up again after almost two years of restrictions, the consequences of Brexit start to become a reality. In the last year, all things EU touring have been somewhat theoretical as covid restrictions has been the main obstacle for travel and touring, but the MMF and other industry organisations such as the MU, FAC and LIVE have been very active in trying to ensuring that EU touring will still be possible as the restrictions are lifted.  

We have published guidance and included resources in links for managers in the MMF members area which all MMF members can access. These include detailed documents and updates about the topics mentioned below (including Cabotage and ATA Carnets).

The MMF launched the #LetTheMusicMove campaign with the FAC, backed by nearly 1000 artists, to address some of the key issues that UK musicians and crew face, including the overall increased costs, logistical nightmares and added bureaucracy. Two central parts of these discussions have been cabotage and carnets.

Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a transport operator from another country. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that was signed by the EU and UK provides an EU-wide list of permitted activities, but musicians, artists and performers have been widely overlooked in this agreement. One of many consequences of this is that under the cabotage rules of the TCA, British-owned transport companies can only make 3 stops in the EU before having to return to the UK, which of course is very problematic if you are planning on doing a tour in more than 3 EU countries. The result of this is that many haulage companies have moved to the EU, and many acts have looked into cross-loading as an alternative, ie going to Calais where they have a new, EU registered tour transport company waiting for them. Expensive, complicated and not feasible for smaller bands with smaller budgets. Tour busses and similar vehicles carrying equipment still fall under the TCA.

Acts travelling with only their personal instruments without any other equipment (limited to one instrument per band member) are allowed to take these over to the EU with no problems. But acts who are carrying more equipment and more personnel, who might not need a full on tour bus but more than a personal car, often use splitter vans.

Splitter vans have been a widely discussed topic since the TCA was signed. Are they or are they not included in the TCA? Do they fall under the TCA rules? Up until recently, they did. 

In a recent Creative Sector Customs Meeting with DCMS it was shared that after conversations with the Department of Transport (DfT), splitter vans will not be covered by the TCA, and their use is therefore subject to Member State law. This was also the case while the UK was a member of the EU, and as the TCA does not apply to splitter vans, their use by UK operators will continue to be governed by Member State law. 

It is still important to check with each individual country what the law is, but in rough terms – if you are doing one or two stops in each country with a splitter van, you should be fine.

If you are bringing more equipment than one personal instrument per person, you will however need a carnet. An ATA carnet is a document which permits you to temporarily bring equipment across borders, and these are valid for up to 12 months from the date of issue and can be used multiple times, and in multiple countries during the period of validity. More information can be found here:

The actual reality of what happens when you get to the border has been somewhat of a mystery, mostly because EU touring hasn’t really kicked off yet due to COVID. But as it does, the logistical nightmares start emerging. Some tours though are happening and seem to be getting through with minimal bureaucracy (carnets included) although there has been confusion about how and where to stamp them at the border!

Luckily, the government has unofficially acknowledged that this can be a complex process. MMF members can access a document in our Brexit Resource document with different scenarios with different steps, including where and how to get their carnets stamped etc. To access this, log in at, head to the members area → resources → Brexit and you can find some of the key updates from the latest creative sector customs meeting. 

The FAC has negotiated a discount for ATA Carnets, more information on this will be announced in the next couple of weeks, so please ensure your clients are signed up to the FAC to be able to take part of this discount. 

As always, if you have any questions you can always reach out to us at The MMF. 


Read also...

MMF Weekly Roundup


A weekly summary of events and resources for music managers.

Find out more

Manager Spotlight: Mark Robinson


The manager spotlight offers a small insight into the heads of incredible managers.⁠ This week in the spotlight is Mark Robinson!

Find out more

We’re hiring: Senior Operations Manager


We are looking for a dynamic and ambitious Senior Operations Manager to join the MMF team.

Find out more

MMF Weekly Roundup


A weekly summary of events and resources for music managers.

Find out more
Back to Top

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.