'No deal' Brexit:

Correct as of 19 February 2021

The end of freedom of movement between the UK and European Union (EU) has not just impacted the way that musicians are able to travel from the UK for work, access health insurance and pay social security and tax. The way that instruments and equipment are transported has also changed.

Musicians need to determine if their instruments, equipment or both require additional documents for travel from 1 January 2021. Because national authorities have powers to seize and destroy instruments without appropriate certification (whether you are going abroad or returning to the UK), it is important to understand if this applies to your instrument(s) to ensure its safe and legal transportation.

The two documents that are now relevant to musicians are ATA Carnets (an international customs document that covers the temporary moving of goods) and a Musical Instrument Certificate (MIC) (required for instruments containing certain protected materials).

ATA Carnets

Update for travelling with your instrument from Great Britain to the EU 18 February 2021

We have been advised by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) that an ATA Carnet is not required for musicians with accompanied instruments (ie carried or taken with the individual in personal baggage or a vehicle) travelling between Great Britain and the EU. We have had further confirmation from HM Treasury, that the same rules apply when travelling to Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

However, if instruments are not accompanied (ie they are carried as freight) then customs formalities (through a declaration or use of a carnet) will be required. Please see below for more information about carnets if this applies to you. In these circumstances a carnet will facilitate dealing with customs when entering and leaving the EU, and on entry to Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Please note, most goods in free circulation in Northern Ireland, including musical instruments and equipment, currently benefit from unfettered access to GB, such that no customs declarations are required either on exit from NI or entry to GB.

The management of EU import and export procedures is the responsibility of the customs authorities of the Member States. It is important that businesses and individuals confirm the processes in advance of their journey.

Please note we have also published further information on the circumstances where a carnet may be used.

The ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet is an international customs document which will:

1. Allow you to import, on a temporary basis, equipment or goods for events (including live performances) into all countries which are part of the ATA Carnet system on the understanding that you will take all such goods or equipment back with you when you return home;

2. Simplify customs formalities by allowing a single document to be used for clearing goods through customs in the countries within ATA Carnet system. The European Union is considered a single customs territory for the purposes of this system. Without an ATA Carnet you will need to go through each country's customs procedures for the temporary admission of goods e.g. by lodging a temporary import bond.

There is an Issuing Fee (2021: £360 inc. VAT) plus a security bond which will vary according to the value of your instrument or equipment. You can pay for the bond with cash, a banker’s draft or bank guarantee or by using the LCC’s Carnet Security Scheme (CSS) – a one-off non-refundable payment which means you do not have to supply a banker’s draft or bank guarantee. A Duplicate List is an alternative method to export goods temporarily to countries that do not recognise ATA Carnets. Some instruments require a Music Instrument Certificate (and if so, must transit through certain ports listed here).


CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora) is an international agreement adopted between governments in 1975. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES regulations can apply to musical instruments built with protected materials such as Bubinga, Brazilian rosewood, ivory, abalone and tortoiseshell, and these may require documentation and permits to import, export and travel across borders.

A finished instrument (including its parts and accessories) that contains less than 10 kg of rosewood should, in principle, not require certification to travel across borders within the EEA, but an instrument weighing more than 10 kg will require certification. Instruments or accessories containing any amount of Appendix I materials (e.g. elephant ivory) require a MIC. The application is currently free and the permit is valid for three years. If your instrument requires a MIC, you must travel through CITES-designated point of entry and exit. This will allow for customs authorities to endorse the certificate when entering or leaving the UK. The list of UK and EU CITES-designated points of entry and exit can be found below.

From 1 January 2021, CITES permits will be required to move goods or specimens between Great Britain and the EU, and GB and Northern Ireland. For the movement of CITES specimens from GB to NI, and NI to GB, CITES import and export checks will all happen in Northern Ireland. This means you may use any point of entry/exit from GB but you must use one of the CITES-designated points of entry/exit in NI. Click here for more information on CITES arrangements from 1 January 2021.

Belfast International
Birmingham International
Bristol International
Cardiff International
East Midlands
Glasgow International
Glasgow Prestwick
London Heathrow
London Luton
London Stansted
Southampton International

Belfast Seaport
Harwich international
Immingham & Hull
Liverpool Seaforth Container Terminal
London Gateway (Port of London)
Pembroke & Fishguard
Portsmouth International
Southampton ABP
Tilbury (Port of London)

CITES-designated ports in the EU

Click here for a list of CITES-designated points of entry and exit in the EU.

Possible future fees for Musical Instrument Certificates

The UK Government department DEFRA are due to review the fees for obtaining CITES certificates and are considering implementing any changes by April 2022. As the application is currently free, we will be lobbying against any potential new charge for obtaining Musical Instruments Certificates. However, we would advise that you apply for a MIC should your instrument require one before April 2022.

Applying for a Musical Instrument Certificate

The form you will need to apply for a MIC is FED0172 (imports and exports). More information on applying can be found on the government website.

If you are unsure about your application, contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) by telephone (+44 (0) 3000 200 301) or email ([email protected]).