Legal Status of guiding in the EU

Cardholders may be in one of the following three categories:

  1. Established in an EU/EEA country that does not regulate guiding
  2. Established in an EU/EEA country that regulates guiding
  3. Established in a non-EU/EEA country (see note on Brexit below)

Established typically means the country in which individual is registered to pay tax, and/or is a legal resident. Multilingual counterpart documents to support the Tour Guide ID card are available in PDF form when applying for the ID cards or by contacting

Individuals in category B must meet domestic requirements of regulated professions. For example, in Italy, they must have a patentino or risk a fine.

Individuals from EU countries have a general right to provide professional services in other EU countries, subject to the provisions of the Professional Qualifications directive, which sets out formalities that must be observed if an individual from one country wishes to work, on a temporary and occasional basis, in a country that regulates guiding. Individuals wishing to provide guiding services on a temporary and occasional basis must make a prior declaration to the competent authority in any country requiring it. It is not obligatory for regulating countries to require a prior declaration.

In practice, it appears that Italy is the country that pays most attention to this, and the publicly available list of individuals granted permission appears to include only a fraction of those providing temporary services in Italy. It is important to note that evidence of making a declaration is a necessary pre-condition for a successful appeal to a fine that has been unjustly imposed.

As of January 2019, the following EU states regulated guiding: Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. The EU database listing all regulated professions is available here.

The generic term ‘tourist guide’ yields 12 countries. Note that some countries regulate more than one profession that overlaps with the normal services provided by a tour guide, and domestic definitions as to the specific activity vary. While professional regulation is a ‘national competence’ there can be regional variation. For example, in Spain, Comunidad Autónoma de Andalucía regulates. In practice there are strong local sensitivities in relation to non-local guides in some destinations and the situation is fluid. We will publish updates as necessary.

Brexit: If the UK leaves the EU, individuals established there will be subject to the terms of any negotiated withdrawal agreement or, in the event of ‘no deal’, EU and UK guidance. As of January 2019, it is unclear whether the principle of mutual recognition between EU and UK of professionals seeking to provide services in either on a temporary and occasional basis will remain. It is possible that such activity will be subject to bilateral agreements between the UK and individual EU states since EU states, not the EU itself, have competence in professional regulation. The EU manages the framework that promotes mutual recognition and cross border services within the EU. UK citizens may, under ‘no deal’, be subject to the general limit on duration of stay applicable to 3rd country nationals: 90 days within 180.

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