Festival International et Académie


Players & Instruments


We know, from the well-documented experiences of Stephen Isserlis and others, how uncertain we always are about whether instruments larger than a piccolo can be carried in hand luggage (violin) and/or require you not to carry any other hand luggage as well and/or require a seat of their own (cello). Many attempts have been made to clarify this on flights within Europe and airlines/airports still operate different rules. Generally, our experience is that, with prior arrangement at the time of booking, EasyJet, Swiss, Lufthansa, Air France/KLM and BA will take small instruments as hand luggage and that cellos need a seat of their own. But it is still at the discretion of the captain/cabin manager/check-in agent and you may have to put your computer, music and pyjamas in the hold. Ryanair is not generally player-friendly. Double basses, harps and harpsichords need cars or vans: the festival organizers try to find local instruments and/or try to transport a few themselves or encourage players to bring their own if this is economically viable. But we cannot afford to ship everything or to pay for single-occupancy drivers coming to Seillans from afar. Please think about this well in advance – and try to book travel early for best deals and to coincide your arrival with our bus transport to/from Nice airport or Les Arcs Draguignan TGV station. 

Also…. please note the following EU-wide customs rule re instruments. Though this requirement seems to be enforced mainly in Germany & Austria, it does apply throughout Europe and not paying attention could leave you instrument-free. If you go through the wrong channel, any instrument that a customs officer thinks might be worth more than €5000 could be confiscated (for awhile or forever!)  And if, having done so, you do not have suitable documentation about it, you could still have to leave it behind for quite a long time. See below:  


The Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media

Re: Customs Procedures during the International Arrival and Departure with valuable Instruments
Information for legal behaviour with Instruments carried as Luggage

Concerning; Instrument confiscations by Customs in August 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In August 2012, as a result of random checks at a German Airport, Customs officials (temporarily) confiscated 2 historical musical instruments. Two professional musicians had, rather than walking through the red gate for wares to be declared, walked through the green gate for wares that needn’t be declared, with their instruments. With the choice of the wrong gate, they had violated Customs regulations.

The Federal Finance Ministry reminds, once again, that professional musicians should always declare the instruments in their luggage in the red channel. The green channel may, regardless of the value of the wares, only be used with objects that do not have a commercial use. This does not include objects that are used in the perusal of a profession, and is why these Musicians were obliged to have used the red exit. In both cases it was possible to achieve a belated registration of the instruments after documents had been presented later.

Since the question of instrument transportation plays a role in pursuit of your profession, I would beg to indicate with the following suggestions for your behaviour in Customs s and hope, with your support, to prevent the occurrence of similar cases.

Professionally used objects are, on arrival in the Federal Republic of Germany, always to be brought through the red exit for goods to declare, even when all (still necessary) documents proving the freedom from Customs and the legality of the bringing into the Federal Republic are carried with the instrument. To speed the process of bringing professionally used instruments, and avoid the necessity to prove the customs freedom and legality of use in the EU, musicians can apply for a so called “Carnet ATA” for their instrument. With this document, one can enter, exit or travel through with the item of cultural or scientific use, and document the customs status with simplicity. The “Carnet ATA” is valid in all countries that are signatories to the ATA-Treaty. In Germany it is issued by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. More exact information is to be found on the web site of the Customs (link) or by googleing “zoll carnet ata”.

As a further information, I would like to direct your attention to a Online-Handbook from the International Theatre Institute, together with the International Society of Visual Art. The Online Portal is programmed to be opened by Secretary of State for Culture, Neumann on 18th April 2013, and will contain further interesting information

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