Travel, Transport and Customs

 Author: Christine Heemsoth, IGBK, Berlin
Co-Author music sector: Birgit Ellinghaus, alba Kultur, Cologne

Travel, transport and customs duties

The international nature of the cultural and creative sector does not necessarily go hand in hand with a growing liberalisation of border traffic. Although barriers to the import and export of goods and the travel of artists and other ensemble members have been reduced within the EU, careful preparations are required to ensure the safe and timely arrival and departure of artists and the transport of materials to guest performances and exhibitions. This applies also, and especially, to projects that extend beyond EU borders.

That this is worth the effort often only becomes apparent in practice when difficulties arise, for example when items that are being returned to Germany are held at German customs because the regulations governing the return of goods were neglected before the transport was initiated, or when an airline does not allow an instrument to be transported in the cabin upon check-in.

The formalities associated with travel and with the transport of art works, musical instruments, equipment, stage sets etc. involve a certain amount of work and must be completed by the person traveling, both for travel within the EU and for travel beyond EU borders (see also Customs - travel and transport) unless a forwarding company or courier service is used (see Shipping companies, courier services, self-transport).

In the music sector, the transport of instruments by shipping companies or courier services and the independent travel of musicians is usually not an option (tight schedule, musicians do not like to part with valuable instruments etc.). However, artists are permitted to travel with their portable instruments and equipment if these are used for freelance activities. Under certain conditions, these are treated as duty-free or tax-exempt goods. Nevertheless, certain aspects must be considered, such as the legal restrictions on the transport of cultural goods (see Transport of cultural assets).

Example 1:
A music ensemble from Frankfurt goes on a tour of the Benelux countries, France, Morocco and Spain. The six musicians travel with some of their instruments (guitar, cello, kora, cymbals for drums and frame drums) and technical equipment (in-ear monitoring, MIDI) by train and plane. What must be considered regarding customs formalities, insurance and packaging?

Example 2: 
A co-operative gallery in Berlin agrees on a joint project with a gallery in Yerevan, Armenia. The galleries plan to organize two exhibitions: one of German artists in Yerevan and at a later time one of Armenian artists in Berlin. How will the works be transported to their respective destinations and which customs formalities must be taken into account?

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