Empowering the Freelance Economy

UK client wants you for a temporary EU gig? Here’s how to navigate the red tape post-Brexit

UK freelance tour technicians are struggling since Brexit
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A freelance LED technician who recently toured the EU with a band highlights what you need to prepare for if you tour or work in the EU on behalf of a UK client. Let’s just say prepare for red tape

Brexit has made it harder for British freelancers in the entertainment and touring business to make a decent living. They stress about getting their AI certificate back in time before a tour starts in the EU, and they must also carry a carnet, a list of all equipment they are bringing, to satisfy customs requirements. Additionally, they can only work consecutively in the EU for a limited number of days (the 90/180 Schengen allowance). What happens if the tour is delayed?

Undeniably, Brexit has made it more restrictive for British freelancers to earn a living, and this is bad for HMRC tax revenues.

“The UK’s creative touring industry is genuinely world-leading but our dominance in the field has been massively eroded by the problems we face since Brexit,” says a freelance LED touring technician in a report by Central Bylines, an independent news site.

“According to the Independent Society of Musicians, nearly half of UK musicians and allied workers have had less work in the EU since Brexit. More than a quarter have had no work in the EU at all.”

  • Increased costs: Technicians have to contend with the rising costs of touring, from fuel to new costs and complications caused by Brexit, which have made it impossible for some bands to tour Europe.
  • Visa issues: The visa process has become more complex and expensive for UK musicians and crew touring the EU.
  • Loss of work: Nearly half of UK musicians and allied workers have had less work in the EU since Brexit, and more than a quarter have had no work in the EU at all.

Below we highlight what you need to consider and prepare for before you work for a UK client in the EU and have a registered freelance business based in the UK.

A1 certification from HMRC

An A1 certificate is a document that proves that you are paying National Insurance in the UK and are therefore exempt from paying social security contributions in the EU countries where you are working. You can apply for an A1 certificate online or by post.

To be eligible for an A1 certificate, you must be:

  • A UK resident
  • Self-employed or working for a UK-based company
  • Working in an EU country for a temporary period of time (up to 24 months)

The application process for an A1 certificate is relatively straightforward, but it is important to make sure that you have all of the required documentation before you apply. This includes:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your National Insurance number
  • A copy of your self-employment certificate or employment contract
  • A letter from your client or employer in the EU confirming that you will be working for them for a temporary period of time

Once you have submitted your application, it will be processed by HMRC and you should receive your A1 certificate within a few weeks.

90/180 Schengen allowance

The 90/180 Schengen allowance is a rule that limits the amount of time that non-EU citizens can spend in the Schengen Area within a 180-day period. The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport controls at their internal borders.

Under the 90/180 Schengen allowance, non-EU citizens are allowed to spend a maximum of 90 days in the Schengen Area within any 180-day period. This period begins on the day that you first enter the Schengen Area.

If you are a freelance technician who is planning to tour in the EU, you will need to make sure that you do not exceed the 90/180 Schengen allowance. You can do this by keeping track of the number of days that you spend in the Schengen Area and by planning your itinerary carefully.

Carnet

A carnet is a document that allows you to temporarily import goods into a foreign country without paying customs duties or taxes. Carnets are valid for up to one year and can be used for multiple trips.

If you are a freelance technician who is planning to tour in the EU, you may need to apply for a carnet. This is especially true if you are carrying valuable equipment, such as musical instruments or sound equipment.

To apply for a carnet, you will need to contact your local chamber of commerce. They will be able to provide you with more information on the application process and the fees involved.

Tips for freelancers

Here are some additional tips for freelance technicians who are planning to tour in the EU:

  • Make sure that you have all of the required documentation, including your A1 certificate, passport, and carnet.
  • Plan your itinerary carefully so that you do not exceed the 90/180 Schengen allowance.
  • Be aware of the customs regulations in the EU countries that you are visiting.
  • Purchase travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected events.

Freelance roles that may need to work in the EU

  • Entertainment and touring: Musicians, performers, technicians, and other crew members often need to travel to the EU for tours and performances.
  • Business and finance: Consultants, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals may need to travel to the EU for meetings, conferences, and other work engagements.
  • Media and communications: Journalists, photographers, and videographers may need to travel to the EU to cover events or interview people.
  • Technology and creative industries: Software developers, web designers, graphic designers, and other creatives may need to travel to the EU to work on projects with clients or collaborators.
  • Education and research: Teachers, professors, and researchers may need to travel to the EU to give lectures, conduct research, or attend conferences.

Other jobs that may require UK freelancers to work temporarily in the EU include:

  • Sales and marketing
  • Customer service
  • Human resources
  • Project management
  • Event management
  • Translation and interpreting
  • Catering and hospitality
  • Construction and engineering

If you are a UK freelancer and you are considering working temporarily in the EU, it is important to research the visa requirements for the country or countries you plan to visit. You may also need to obtain a work permit or other authorisation.

Here are some additional tips for UK freelancers who are planning to work temporarily in the EU:

  • Make sure you have a valid passport and visa.
  • Check the latest travel advice for the country or countries you plan to visit.
  • Purchase travel insurance.
  • Pack light so that you can easily move around.
  • Be prepared for cultural differences.
  • Learn a few basic phrases in the local language.
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