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The Guide


Do I need a visa and/or work permit for a work stay in Germany?


As of 1 January 2021, UK nationals will still be able to enter the Schengen area without a visa if they meet the criteria for a short stay.
This is because all countries that are part of the Schengen area apply the same entry rules for non-EU nationals. The Schengen area, in which there are no de facto internal border controls, acts as a kind of connected "visa area". Passport checks usually take place only on entry into and exit from the Schengen area, and selectively within the Schengen area.

Please note: The Schengen area is not congruent with the EU! The Schengen area includes the non-EU countries of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (and soon also Gibraltar), but not the EU countries of Bulgaria, the Republic of Ireland, Romania and Cyprus.

A short stay in the Schengen area is limited to a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. All days of the stay

  • contiguous or not,
  • within the last 180 days,
  • in all countries of the Schengen area

are counted as part of a short stay.

If you are staying in the Schengen area, it is necessary to check whether you have already stayed in the area for 90 days in the respective 180-day period prior to each individual day of stay. So prior to any visa-free entry into the Schengen area, your previous history of stay in the Schengen area over the preceding 180-day period must be checked. Entry and exit days are considered full days of stay.

You stayed in the Schengen area for a total of 50 days from 1 June to 20 July 2021 in France and Belgium (visiting friends and family) and also for a total of 35 days from 1 August to 4 September 2021 in Poland and Lithuania (holiday). Now you are planning another stay in the Schengen area from 1 October to 10 October 2021 in Germany.


For each planned day of stay in Germany in October, you must check whether a visa-free entry is permissible (i.e. whether your stay qualifies as a short stay). In order to do this, you must check your previous days of stay in the Schengen area over the respective 180-day period prior to the respective day for each planned day of your stay:

  • 1 October 2021: days of stay in the 180-day period prior: 50 + 35 = 85.

The stay on 1 October 2021 is possible (Day 86). A stay on 2 and 3 October is possible as well.

  • 4 October 2021: days of stay in the 180-day period prior: 50 + 35 + 3 (1 to 3 October) = 88.

The stay on 4 October is also possible (day 89), but you must leave the country on the following day (5 October), as the maximum stay of 90 days will be reached on that day. You will not be able to stay from 6 to 10 October.

  • If you stay from 1 to 5 October, a new visa-free short stay in the Schengen area would only be permissible again from 28 November, since the day of stay of 1 June is no longer part of the 180-day period prior to November 28 and is therefore no longer counted. Note: 28 November does not start a new 180-day period; rather, the previous days of stay in the 180-day period prior to 28 November only amount to 89, since the day of stay of 1 June is now outside the 180-day period prior to November 28. You can also stay on 29 November, as the day of stay of 2 June is also now outside the 180-day period prior to November 29.

Further information:

The question of whether a visa or resident permit is required for paid work under national German law must be considered. Since British nationals are no longer EU nationals and therefore no longer have the freedom to offer their services or work in the EU, the national law of the respective EU state is decisive in such cases.

The question of whether non-EU nationals need a visa or other work document for paid work is decided on a national basis (there is very limited coordination within the EU with regard to this issue).

In Germany, this is regulated in the Employment Ordinance (Beschäftigungsverordnung/BeschV), which governs access to the labour market for non-EU nationals. Section 30 of the ordinance contains a list of activities that are not considered gainful employment for the purposes of residence law. Section 22 BeschV (only available in German) is particularly relevant for artistic activities. It states that the following artistic activities are not considered "gainful employment" (even if they are paid) and that no special visa must be obtained to pursue them:

  • persons, including their support staff, who, while retaining their ordinary residence abroad, engage in lectures or performances of special scientific or artistic value or in performances of a sporting nature in Germany, if the duration of the activity does not exceed 90 days within a period of twelve months (§ 22 Nr. 1 BeschV- only available in German),
  • persons employed in the context of festivals or music and cultural events or posted in the context of guest performances or foreign film and television productions, if the duration of the activity does not exceed 90 days within a period of twelve-months (Section 22 No 2 BeschV- only available in German) ,
  • persons performing in one-day shows or events* for up to 15 days a year (Section 22 No. 3 BeschV- only available in German),
  • photo models, advertising models, fashion models (Section 22 No. 6 BeschV- only available in German).

*A "one-day show or event" is "when a special event, which is also recognisable as such to the outside world, is organised outside the normal course of business. A daily performance is generally announced in a special way, e.g. through advertisements or posters. Performances may not take place on more than two days in a row" (Source: Visum-Handbuch des Auswärtigen Amts, under Künstler 2)b. - only available in German). Any preceding rehearsals on up to two days do not count (Source: Fachliche Weisungen - Fachliche Weisungen Aufenthaltsgesetz und Beschäftigungsverordnung, 19c.22.3 - only available in German).

These regulations apply to both employees and self-employed persons.

The exceptions outlined above do not apply to individuals engaged by a German establishment in the field of performing arts (such as a theatre, an orchestra, an opera or a musical or circus troupe). All performances and rehearsals, whether paid or unpaid, require a visa or residence permit authorising employment.

This information of the German Missions in the United Kingdom provides an overview of professional activities not classed as economic activities/work ("Erwerbstätigkeit").

In summary, if the activities of British artists

1) meet the conditions for a short stay in the Schengen area (maximum of 90 days within the last 180 days) and

2) do not exceed the maximum duration of activity according to Section 22 BeschV (maximum of 90 days in each 12-month period),

no visa is required.

Therefore, the same rules apply to British artists after Brexit as to other nationals who may enter the country without a visa for a short stay, such as US or Japanese nationals. Based on our experience in recent years, this group of people did not encounter any particular problems when entering the country for a short stay, for example, they were not required to prove upon entry that a performance or activity met the conditions set forth in Section 22 BeschV (only available in German).

Nevertheless, we recommend that you carry the following documents with you:

  • letter of invitation from the organiser in Germany,
  • confirmation of health insurance that is valid in Germany (or an A1 form and a valid European Health Insurance Card or the British successor, the "Global Health Insurance Card"),
  • information about where you are staying in Germany (address, hotel booking or similar).

What regulations apply to British nationals who are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and live in an EU country?
Information is available here.

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Does UK health insurance coverage apply during work stays in Germany?

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishes that postings from the UK to EU member states (and vice versa) will continue to be possible. This means that the previous social security legislation will continue to apply if a posting is temporary and does not exceed 24 months.

A1 certificates will continue to be issued as proof of a posting under this agreement for a transitional period.
Information for individuals insured in the United Kingdom can be found here.

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What must be considered when transporting professional equipment (musical instruments, works of art) and items to Germany?

Import VAT is payable on deliveries that are to remain in Germany (sales). As of 1 July 2021, the tax-free allowance for deliveries to the EU customs territory ceased to apply, i.e. all deliveries are subject to import VAT and must be declared for import (information on internet customs declaration by the customs authorities- only available in German).

Do you travel with merchandise?
Goods for commercial purposes, such as merchandise, with a value of up to 1,000 euros, which are imported in a traveller's personal luggage, can be verbally declared to customs at the airport – when traveling directly from the UK to Germany by plane. The incoming artist should carry a list of merchandise items with their value to facilitate the process of clearance. Import turnover tax and customs duty (customs duty if applicable) will be charged; the import duties must be paid immediately (cash or card payment). An EORI number is not required in this case.
In case that merchandise is not sold completely and is taken back to the UK: Customs and VAT law does not provide for a refund of import VAT for unsold goods. If you want to avoid paying too much import duties, you have to declare another customs procedure, the customs procedure of temporary use. Information can be found here at touring artists.

An A.T.A. carnet should be requested for temporary use of equipment, musical instruments, works of art and set design. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry is responsible for issuing carnets in the United Kingdom (additional information).

Small items (e.g., musical instruments) transported as carry-on baggage will likely not require a carnet.

A CITES permit should be obtained for musical instruments made of protected woods or species and the export declared in the UK.

Transport companies from the UK or the EU are now only allowed to carry out a limited number of cabotage transports in the respective other territory (a maximum of 2 in any 7-day period). This applies to vehicles with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes. This means that for tours in the EU using UK vehicles that exceed this weight limit, only two more trips can be made after the vehicle enters the EU.

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What tax regulations must be observed?

Nothing has changed with regard to income tax (withholding tax, "foreigner tax"), as the bilateral double taxation agreement between the UK and Germany continues to apply. Information on the topic of withholding tax can be found here. Detailed information concerning the taxation of performances in Germany by self-employed artists domiciled abroad can be found in the Checklist: Withholding tax for performing artists from abroad.

The United Kingdom is no longer to be treated as a Member State concerning VAT, but as a third country. The information on third countries in the VAT section of the touring artists website applies accordingly.

Deliveries are now subject to import VAT. Please note: As of 1 July 2021, the tax-free allowance for deliveries to the EU customs territory will cease to apply, i.e. all deliveries will be subject to import VAT (further information can also be requested from the customs authorities- only available in German).

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Arts Infopoint UK

Contact Arts Infopoint UK for questions related to visits to the United Kingdom