Brexit – How are singers and musicians affected?

The word Brexit conjures up all sorts of horror scenarios for anyone thinking of doing business in the United Kingdom after March 29, 2019.  As of right now, Brexit is a moving target, with this topic being top of the agenda in UK and EU politics every day.

Important: If you are planning a trip to the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) after March 29, 2019 for any purpose other than just a tourist visit, be sure to inform yourself at the nearest UK consulate as to the current legal requirements or on the British Embassy’s website 

A quick recap:  In June 2016, the Brits voted in a popular referendum in favor of the UK leaving the European Union* by March 29, 2019. However, there is really no deal set on the “how to leave” in place as of March 4, 2019.

The UK has been a member of the EU, which regulates much of the inter-nation trade as if it is it just one country, instead of 28 different systems. Similar to the various states in the United States, where many issues are regulated across all 50 states, but also many states have their own regulations. These issues primarily affect trade and commercial transactions.

Brexit may also affect citizens of the EU living and working in the UK as well as UK citizens living and working in the EU.

While still a member of the EU, the UK has continued to have its own currency, the Pound Sterling, and its own system for issuing visa, study and work permits. the rules for these may change, so please inform yourself of current regulations.

In all cases, you will need a valid passport valid for at least 6 months longer than the time you plan on staying in the UK.  In case you need a visa, be sure to plan ahead of time and be aware that there are costs involved as well as a fair amount of paperwork.

5 Ways Brexit can affect opera singers and musicians:

  1. If you are a citizen of the United States and are planning on traveling to and studying in the United Kingdom: 

Check out:

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Read the the relevant pages carefully, as there are differences if you are planning on staying less than 3 months or longer.

  1. If you are a citizen of the United States and are planning on traveling to and working in the United Kingdom:

You will need to get a “permitted paid engagement visa”

Check out:

  1. If you are a citizen of any country in the European Union and are planning on working in the United Kingdom:

Check out:

  1. If you are a citizen of any country in the European Union and are currently working or studying in the United Kingdom:

There is, as of March 4, 2019, still no regulation in place as to how citizens of EU countries will be able to continue to work legally in the UK after Brexit. This is not to say that you have to panic or that your job will be terminated. Most likely this will mean that, given a transition period, you will have to get a new work permit.  However, be sure to keep abreast of the news.

  1. If you are a citizen of any country outside the European Union and are planning on travelling to and working in the United Kingdom:

Check with the UK Consulate in your country in plenty of time for an update on the newest regulations.

So how will Brexit affect opera singers and musicians?

In the short term, it means that, if there is a sudden cancellation, the search for a replacement will most likely be for an artist already in the UK – be he/she a UK citizen or a foreigner with a proper work permit. Let’s say an opera house in the UK is putting on Tosca and the soprano has cancelled due to illness two days before the performance.

The artistic director will surely look first in the UK for a replacement, since paperwork would make it difficult to guarantee that a soprano from, say, Italy, makes it on time. In pre-Brexit times, it would be easy for an Italian soprano to have hopped on a plane, flown to the UK, and taken advantage of the engagement.

In the long term, at this point, it is anyone’s guess how the post-Brexit regulations will affect the engagement of foreign singers.

Bottom line:  No need to panic, but check official sources, such as the ones mentioned above, for latest updates.

* The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (excl. North Ireland), Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Zenaida des Aubris

With over 30 years experience as an opera agent, personal management, opera production, fundraising, marketing and promotion, Zenaida Desaubris is based in Berlin, Germany. She is our European Jobs Consultant and as an opera career coach, helps young singers optimize their individual career strategies. Contact her at