Laurens Meijer
Advisor Mobility Information Point
l.meijer [at] dutchculture.nl

Inviting professionals from abroad: who is exempted from the EU entry ban?

Inviting professionals from abroad: who is exempted from the EU entry ban?

Working together with a cultural or creative professional based outside the European Union? This article explains the entry ban and the exemptions in place.
By Laurens Meijer

The EU entry ban is in force since 19 March 2020 limiting travel to the European Union and the Netherlands. This has serious implications for international cultural exchange. The ban means that most non-EU citizens are not allowed to enter the Schengen area. Fortunately, there is a growing list of 'safe countries' who's residents are exempted from the entry ban. Travellers fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by EMA can also travel to the EU for non-essential purposes.

Please verify if you fall under one of the following exemption categories:

1. Check if the country you are coming from is on the list of 'safe countries'

If you are a resident or citizen of a country that is on the EU’s list of ‘safe countries’, the entry ban doesn’t apply to you. This growing list of countries currently includes Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine and China (subject to reciprocity).

The EU list of 'safe countries' is regularly updated and implemented by EU member states. Please check if your country of destination in the EU has already done so before travelling. There usually is a delay between the date of adding new countries to the EU's list and the date these measures come into effect on a national level.

Do mind that regular visa requirements based on nationality still apply. If you for example are a citizen of Thailand living in a safe country like Singapore for example, you would still need to apply for a Schengen visa.

2. Check if you are fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO

From 1 July onwards: travellers fully vaccinated with a vaccin approved by the World Health Organisation can be exempted from the EU entry ban and enter the Netherlands.

Please note that fully vaccinated non-EU citizens coming from a very high risk area are not exempted from the EU entry ban.

3. Check if you qualify for the exemption for cultural or creative professionals

If a cultural organisation wishes to invite a cultural or creative professional that isn't based in one of the countries on the 'safe list' nor fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by EMA, maybe that professional falls under the scope of the exemption to the entry ban based on cultural interest.

Cultural and creative professionals that serve a Dutch social, cultural and economic interest are invited to apply for an exemption. For example directors, conductors, choreographers, musicians, but also restorers and conservators. If this is the case depends on whether:

  1. The work is part of the activities of a cultural or creative institution that receives a multiyear grant from the Dutch central government through the BIS (Basisinfrastructuur) or one of the six cultural funds: the Netherlands Film Fund, the Cultural Participation Fund, the Performings Arts Fund, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Mondriaan Fund or the Creative Industries Fund NL for the period of 2017-2020 or 2021-2024;
  2. The professional is invited by the Dutch cultural or creative institution for his/her/them unique qualities and skillset and receives a fee for the work;
  3. This professional’s physical presence and participation is essential to the organisation’s overall ability to conduct its activities;
  4. The income generated from this activity should be substantial in relation to the financial situation of the inviting institution. This proves the added economic value of the professional.
What should an invitation letter include?

The inviting organisation composes an invitation letter that includes information on all four aspects indicated above. The letter should be written on the organisation's letterhead and include:

  • the name and address of the professional in his/her/their country of residence;
  • the date of the activities (both repetitions and stage dates, for example) for which the professional is invited;
  • a declaration that the organisation receives structural funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science or one of the six sector specific cultural funds*;
  • information about the unique qualities and skillset of the professional and the renumeration he/she/they receive in return;
  • an explanation on why the presence and participation of the professional is vital for the organisation to continue its planned activities, or in other words, why the activity can't continue without this professional physically present; and, lastly,
  • name of the responsible person at the inviting organisation, signature and date.

* In exceptional cases organisations that do not receive a multi-year subsidy from the national government or a national culture fund for the period 2017-2020 or 2021-2024 can also apply succesfully. The exception is limited to cases in which the work is urgently and immediately necessary for the continuation of the applying organisation. These applications are assessed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, but must also be submitted to the Performing Arts Fund.

Apply with the Performing Arts Fund

The Performing Arts Fund has the task to handle and decide on applications for permission to enter the Netherlands. You can find additional information on the application process here (in Dutch only). It takes up to 5 days before you receive their decision.

The Dutch government has indicated that it wishes to apply the exemption as limited as possible. Therefore it is important to substantiate your arguments as best as you can to fall within the scope of the exemption.

Please note that the invitation letter can also be used to prove that the cultural or creative professional is allowed to interrupt self-quarantine. You can find more information about the rules on self-quarantine upon arrival here.

Please also check the Dutch government's checklist for travel to the Netherlands here. For further questions on mobility and the coronavirus, please contact DutchCulture’s Mobility Info Point.