Artists touring to Spain will no longer need visas for short-term engagements, bringing to an end the current onerous rules.

The move by the Spanish Government follows extensive lobbying by LIVE, an umbrella body representing 13 UK live music industry associations, the Association for British Orchestras, and Spanish counterparts Asociación Promotores Musicales along with Live Nation Espana.

The development represents a significant boost for the sector which has, as a result of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, seen European touring become more expensive, more complicated, and more difficult to execute.

Visas have been a significant issue for Spain which, despite representing the fifth largest live music market in the world, posed the most costly and complicated visa application process across the bloc for artists looking to travel for short-term work.

Until now, artists and their promoters have had to make applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish, provide a host of itinerary details before having even been given the green light for the tour to go ahead – including accommodation and flight allocations – and give proof of applicant earnings of up to nearly £1,000 before ever having left the country. Costs were also prohibitive, amounting to over £10,000 for an orchestra to visit Spain for up to five days.

Touring artists and their production teams were also required to wait for more than a month for a decision, making long term scheduling – vital for successful international touring – impossible.

LIVE Touring Group chair Craig Stanley said,“We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish Government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications. A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve as an industry when we work together.

“However, that is still only one small part of a very large problem affecting our ability to tour in the round. We are calling on the Government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union.

LIVE said that although the successful return of visa-free short-term work in Spain represents a positive step towards the return of international touring, it is only one part of the picture. Touring artists still face restrictions on touring in Spain: a three-stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return to home and a hugely expensive goods passport (a “carnet”), including a bond for instruments and equipment.

Taken together with the visa issue still affecting other areas of the EU, the impacts of Brexit continue to cause a logistical nightmare for Europe-wide tours. LIVE said it is calling on the Government to work with individual EU Governments to tackle the problem of visas and permits, focusing on 7 member states with the most urgent issues, including Croatia.