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Travel advisory

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JOURNALISTS who need to travel from the UK to the EU to do journalism need to check whether they need a visa or a work permit or both, from 1 January 2021. We find, wading through the Draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, published the day after Christmas, that EU member states have the option of requiring a work permit for any length of stay.

We find, so far, nothing in the draft Agreement that deals directly with the vexed question of UK subjects with residence in an EU member state who need to travel to work in a different member state. It seems likely that the same principle applies: you need to check before you travel whether the member state in which you plan to do journalism requires a work permit.

There are exceptions for travel to meetings about journalism and for attending trade fairs to promote yourself - as far as we can tell, for these purposes you rock up at the border and make like a tourist (though doing so holding written evidence on paper of the purpose of your visit seems an excellent idea). Check the full list of exemptions and let us know if you manage to make creative use of it.

Journalistic, film and broadcasting equipment is specifically exempted from import duty, in regard of visits "for purposes of reporting".

So where do you apply for a visa and a work permit? The UK government advice page is unhelpful: it leads to a list of EU member states' foreign services in their capitals. It does note that you will need a passport issued within the past 10 years that has 6 months or more left to run.

So we have to visit the website of the London Embassy of each EU member state. It may be worth checking www.embassy-london.com for contact details (we've found at least one out-of-date link but the Embassy in question helpfully redirects it).

So, we start with the member states nearest to the UK. The following statements do not necessarily take account of covid-19 pandemic restrictions. They do not apply to stays longer than 90 days (or more than 90 days in total in the "Schengen area", including leisure visits, in any 180-day period).

  • France: "UK citizens going to France to work for up to 90 days will not require a visa. They will need to obtain a temporary work permit unless travelling for a sporting, cultural or scientific event, a seminar or trade show, the production and broadcast of cinematographic and audiovisual works, modelling..." Apply at france-visas.gouv.fr/en_US/web/france-visas;
  • Belgium: "Amendment of the Visa Regulation to exempt UK nationals from the visa requirement for short stays enters into force on 1 January 2021" and it refers you here for applications;
  • The Netherlands: this page says "If you will be working in the Netherlands for less than 90 days, your employer must apply for an employment permit for you (Dutch) from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV)" - the application form for a short stay is here and it says you should allow five weeks. We've not yet found any mention of freelances. See also the page on applying for a short-stay visa and note that the fee is currently €80;
  • Germany: "British citizens and their non-EU family members will be subject to all German immigration rules for third-country nationals" - but check current visa requirements here;

29 December 2020: a few more member states' policies:

  • Italy: "The exemption from the requirement for a short-stay visa will also apply in cases where British citizens enter Italy to perform paid work, subject to reciprocal arrangements for Italian citizens in the UK." So we have to check whether the UK has indeed offered this exemption to Italian citizens. This Ministry of the Interior page clarifies that British citizens entering Italy to undertake paid work for more than three months must apply for a residence permit within eight working days of entering Italy.
  • Spain: "British citizens and their family member need visa for journey undertaken after 31st December 2020 for the purposes of... work..." Odd, that, because we'd have thought that the 90-day Schengen area visa exemption would apply: you'll have to contact the Embassy to enquire about a work permit. Just in case, there is a visa application form in English here but it looks as though this application form for employed or self-employment visas, in Spanish may be a better bet - and this price list quotes fees from £189 for fixed-term contract work;
  • Poland: "Generally the following stays of third country nationals on Polish territory are possible: Short-term stays up to 90 days in each 180-day period in the whole territory of the Schengen countries, including Poland: - in the framework of the visa-free regime (British citizens will be exempt from the visa requirement under the EU regulation)..."; but "As a rule, the requirement to obtain a work permit will apply". See this apparently-helpful page from the City of Poznan;
  • UK: this page is deeply unhelpful on the question of what journalists who are EU citizens need to do;

11 January 2021: we updated the information for the Netherlands (above) and added a few more member states' policies:

  • Portugal: no information on the London Embassy website (linked). Forms to apply for a Schengen visa are here and that for a "Residence Permit for self-employed workers without a residence visa" is here.
  • Denmark: There is a (privatised) online visa application system here and the link for work permits currently goes to the same place. It notes that "the Danish mission has 15 days to make a decision on your visa application" from the date of receipt.
  • Sweden: The London Embassy (linked) refers you to this page on applying for Schengem visas. For work permits it refers to the Swedish Migration Agency, which has a page of work permit forms;

Do check back here to see whether we've spotted changes.


Note 1: the full list of exemptions from the requirement for a work permit covers travel for the purposes of:

  1. meetings and consultations: natural persons attending meetings or conferences, or engaged in consultations with business associates;
  2. research and design: technical, scientific and statistical researchers conducting independent research or research for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  3. marketing research: market researchers and analysts conducting research or analysis for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  4. training seminars: personnel of an enterprise who enter the territory being visited by the Short-term business visitor to receive training in techniques and work practices which are utilised by companies or organisations in the territory being visited by the Short-term business visitor, provided that the training received is confined to observation, familiarisation and classroom instruction only;
  5. trade fairs and exhibitions: personnel attending a trade fair for the purpose of promoting their company or its products or services;
  6. sales: representatives of a supplier of services or goods taking orders or negotiating the sale of services or goods or entering into agreements to sell services or goods for that supplier, but not delivering goods or supplying services themselves. Short-term business visitors shall not engage in making direct sales to the general public;
  7. purchasing: buyers purchasing goods or services for an enterprise, or management and supervisory personnel, engaging in a commercial transaction carried out in the territory of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  8. after-sales or after-lease service: installers, repair and maintenance personnel and supervisors, possessing specialised knowledge essential to a seller's contractual obligation, supplying services or training workers to supply services pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale or lease of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, purchased or leased from a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person throughout the duration of the warranty or service contract;
  9. commercial transactions: management and supervisory personnel and financial services personnel (including insurers, bankers and investment brokers) engaging in a commercial transaction for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  10. tourism personnel: tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators attending or participating in conventions or accompanying a tour that has begun in the territory of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person; and
  11. translation and interpretation: translators or interpreters supplying services as employees of a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person.

Thanks to Professor Steve Peers and to Sam Lowe for help clarifying confusingly-drafted stuff.