Tag Archives: crossing borders

Border Crossing Tips

Last-Minute Border Crossing Tips

You’ve done all the heavy lifting and your paperwork seems to be in order. You’re ready to get on the road and get across that border to fulfil contracted dates. Before you head out the door, here are some last-minute border crossing tips to ensure a successful crossing:

Organize your paperwork. Have your approved I-797 or visa document with you (perhaps in a binder) and be sure that everyone crossing has a valid passport. If crossing by land, you may need to show vehicle ownership; if travelling by air, you need to have evidence of a return ticket. You may be asked to show proof of accommodation and/or proof that you can support yourself while in a foreign country. If you are travelling with gear, have a complete inventory with you. If you are a lone parent/guardian travelling with a child, you may need written travel permission from another guardian or parent.

Appearances are important. At the border, you need to look and sound like a law-abiding citizen who is respectful of authority and poses absolutely no risk. Your demeanor and attitude need to send the right message to border crossing officials. Turn off the radio and remove the sunglasses. If crossing by land, your vehicle should be orderly, neat, and clean.

Declare what you are bringing with you. If you are bringing in CDs for sale or promotion, let the border officials know. You may have to fill out some paperwork, but it’s better to be up front then to have merchandise discovered in a routine inspection and have to deal with the repercussions of not having declared them.

Be prepared for search or inspection. Border officials routinely inspect personal belongings and search vehicles. Your suitcase or purse might be emptied, if border officials need to confirm what they have seen on the x-ray machine, or they might just be searching at random. An inspection might be as simple as a drug-sniffing dog being led on a leash around your vehicle to see if anything turns up, or a complete emptying of the contents of your vehicle. Whatever happens, grin and bear it.

Answer all questions pleasantly. Whatever you are asked, answer with a smile. Border officials can throw you a curve and may try to get a rise out of you, depending on the kind of day they are having. Just remember that their job is a difficult one and they certainly do not need, nor do they deserve, any attitude on the part of someone trying to cross a border and get into their country. Even if you are subjected to aggression or intimidation from a border crossing official, remain calm and polite. Whatever you do, don’t lie.

Do not volunteer extraneous information. As interesting as our life may be, border crossing officials really do not have time to listen to anything other than straight answers to the questions they ask. Answer briefly and directly; the fewer words the better. Use language carefully to avoid any suggestion of impropriety. Do not make jokes or any kind of extraneous comment.

Relax. It may take a while to cross a border and the waiting can be nerve-wracking. At the border, you may be searched, detained and interrogated. Whatever happens, be cooperative and reserved.

See you on the other side.

I welcome your questions and concerns. Please write to me at: robert@bairdartists.com.

Avoiding Border Woes

Avoiding Border Woes

Q: I have often travelled with my community band into the US to play concerts and thought this was a good thing. Imagine my surprise when the band was stopped at the border last month and denied entry into the US because we did not have a P-1 visa. We’ve never been asked for one before—is this something new?

Border woes such as the one described above are all too common and could easily be avoided. The short answer is that, of course, this is nothing new: the temporary work visa requirement for foreign artists entering the US to perform, whether for pay or free, has long been on the books. The enforcement of the regulation was stepped up several years ago, and a temporary work visa is almost always required. However, entry into the US is still solely at the determination of the US Customs and Border Protection Officer at each border crossing, and it is not entirely surprising that this band was allowed in several times over the years and then suddenly challenged with the visa requirement. It all depends on who you get at the border.

So, how does one avoid border woes? Simply put: do your homework well in advance.

1) Get the right temporary work visa. For performing groups I highly recommend the P-2 visa available through the AFM. The musicians’ union has capable, experienced staff members who will assist with the process, and the reciprocal exchange program under which the P-2 visa is administered, provides a streamlined procedure for Federation members.

2) Make sure that all documents are in order: Passports should extend beyond performance dates (some passports may be required to be valid for six months beyond that date).

3) Make sure that all group members qualify for entry. Seventy-five percent of your band members must have been with the group for at least one year.

4) Deal with any issues of criminality for anyone in the group. Any conviction, however minor, can cause problems at the border. There are ways of dealing with this issue well in advance (Look into Waivers of Ineligibility and Criminal Rehabilitation documentation).

5) Deal with the problem of getting merchandise across the border in advance. Send merchandise in via courier or mail, if you can. If you are carrying merchandise make sure it is properly manufactured, or properly labelled (for example, promotional copies). Have the invoice of manufacture with you. For a large quantity of merchandise, you may want to use a customs broker.

6) Look into customs regulations about carrying instruments containing endangered species across the border. There’s no point in trying to cross a border to perform when there’s a danger that your instrument might be confiscated because it contains something from an endangered species. Check out the Musical Instrument Passport program http://www.fws.gov/international/permits/by-activity/musical-instruments.html.

7) Deal with the problem of transporting instruments, especially if you are flying: Make sure you know the regulations adopted by different airlines for transporting instruments.

8) Work out a strategy for dealing with the border crossing. Rehearse straightforward answers to the typical questions you might be asked by a US Customs and Border Protection official. Coach everyone to be honest and forthright. Answer questions succinctly and do not volunteer additional information.

With a little more knowledge about the regulations for performing in another country and a lot more common sense, border crossing woes can be avoided.

—I welcome your questions and concerns. Please send an email to: robert@bairdartists.com.

contract considerations

Contract Considerations for Artists Crossing Borders

robert-bairdby Robert Baird, President Baird Artists Management (BAM!)

When you are negotiating to perform in another country, there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account. There may be language problems, or cultural differences. Be sure you are clear on what is being said or written and know that some cultures may not respond as quickly as necessary, especially when the time to obtain a visa has to be factored into preparations for the performance. It is a good idea to have contracts finalized in plenty of time to allow for the processing of paperwork required to enable the artist to enter the country and perform.

I have decided to start trying to secure some gigs across the border. I was wondering if there are any additional considerations I should think about in negotiating contracts in another country.

Here are a few other things to consider:

1) You need to determine who is going to apply for the required visas, work permits, etc., and who is responsible for the costs. Sometimes, the person hiring you can facilitate, and even obtain the required paperwork. But if the artist has to negotiate the application process, then it is important to know who will pay the required fees.

2)  In North America, with the fluctuating Canadian and American dollar, a decision has to be made as to which currency should be used for payment of the terms of a contract, and even what rate of exchange will be used, and when it will be applied to the payment. The same considerations would apply to foreign contracts: what currency will be used for payment and when will payment be made. In addition, how the payment will be made is important: will it be by cash, wire transfer, money order, check, or cheque? In the latter case it may be impossible or expensive to cash a cheque drawn on a bank in another country, and this needs to be clarified. If there are processing fees, who will pay them?

3) Who will be paying the artist’s travel costs and accommodation? These costs need to be factored into the artist’s fee and should be addressed in the contract negotiations.

4)  More often, presenters are asking artists to provide their own liability insurance and, again, this is an added cost for the artist. It is possible that the presenter can add the artist to an existing insurance policy and this should be discussed.

5)  In the event that a performance needs to be cancelled, due either to force majeure or for any other reason (acceptable reasons should be clarified in the contract), there should be an agreement as to the consequences for either party. Does the artist have to cover some of the presenter’s costs, if he or she cancels? Does a deposit have to be returned? Does the presenter have to cover some of the artist’s costs, if he or she cancels? And is the presenter liable for the entire fee, if the cancellation comes too close to the concert date?

6)  Many jurisdictions are required to withhold taxes from an artist’s fee, unless the artist can provide a waiver of withholding. Investigate ways to avoid withholding.

7)  How disputes are to be handled should be specified in the contract, along with a specified jurisdiction to avoid having to fight a legal battle in another country.

In general, clear and constant communication will make life a lot easier for the artist negotiating terms to cross a border to perform.

—I welcome your questions and concerns.
Please write to me at: robert@bairdartists.com. While I cannot answer every question I receive in this column, I will feature as many as I can and I promise to answer every e-mail I receive.

Pour lire cet article dans la visite Français: www.internationalmusician.org/considérations-contractuelles-pour-les-engagements-à-l’étranger.