APEC Business Travel Card
Fast and efficient travel for business people within the APEC region contributes to APEC's goal of free and open trade and investment. To this end APEC has created an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). The ABTC allows business travelers pre-cleared, facilitated short-term entry to participating member economies. The ABTC removes the need to individually apply for visas or entry permits, saving valuable time, and allows multiple entries into participating economies during the three years the card is valid. Card holders also benefit from faster immigration processing on arrival via access to fast-track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at major airports in participating economies.
The ABTC also helps to enhance border integrity and security in participating economies by providing benefits to border agencies as it increases the number of low risk travelers since each applicant is checked against 'watch lists' of other participating economies. Therefore, it carries savings not only for business people but for governments, too.
APEC Member Economies fully participating in the scheme include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Viet Nam, and the Russian Federation became a full member from 1 June 2013.
Canada and the United States are transitional members of the scheme; Canada is still working towards issuing cards to its own citizens while the United States has passed the legislation allowing the issuance of ABTCs to its citizens. Under the bill, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is authorized to issue the ABTC to U.S. citizens as part of its Global Entry program. Since the creation of the scheme, in 1997, data indicates that the growth rate has continued to accelerate steadily. In 2007 the increase in applications received by the participating economies was more than 100% on a year-on-year basis. By March 2008, the active number of cards was more than 34,000, with the highest share reported by Australia (nearly 40% of the total amount issued).
Benefits for cardholders
The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) cuts though the red tape of business travel, and gives frequent business travellers pre-cleared entry to participating APEC economies. Card holders enjoy:
The ABTC scheme is managed by the APEC Business Mobility Group (BMG), one of the sub-fora working groups of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI). It is made up of government representatives from the 21 member economies of APEC. These representatives are from government departments responsible for immigration and consular affairs. The group usually meets several times a year at the APEC Senior Officials' Meetings. More information on the BMG Group can be found here.
Why the card was developed
The APEC Business Travel Card was developed in response to the need for business people to gain streamlined entry to the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. This enables business people to explore new business opportunities, attend meetings and conduct trade and investment activities.
The card was originally trialled in 1997 with three APEC members (Australia, Korea, and the Philippines) and was expanded in April 1998 to include Chile and Hong Kong (China). After a successful evaluation, the scheme commenced permanent operations from 1 March 1999, when New Zealand and Malaysia announced their participation. Brunei Darussalam, Peru and Thailand joined the scheme in February 2001, China in February 2002, and Indonesia in August 2002. Since then, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Singapore, PNG, Vietnam and most recently Mexico have signed on to the Scheme.
Read more about possible future expansion of the ABTC Scheme here.
There are 21 economies currently participating in the ABTC Scheme: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, PNG, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam. Canada and the United States are currently Transitional Members of the scheme, which allow cardholders from all participating economies to use 'fast-track' immigration lanes (currently designated for air-crew) at major international airports.
Please note: Cardholders will still need to present valid passports and visas if required by existing United States and/or Canadian law, although expedited visa interview scheduling will be provided to APEC Cardholders at United States and Canadian embassies and consulates in APEC economies in cases where a visa is required for the Cardholder to travel to the United States and/or Canada.
Who is eligible
If you want to apply for the card you need to be a business person who:
l Is a passport holder of a participating economy i.e. citizen (or a Hong Kong permanent resident with any valid travel document);
l Travels frequently to conduct trade and investment activities in the APEC region; and
l Has not been convicted of a criminal offence.
Some economies require additional information and may impose additional eligibility criteria. Refer to your home economy for information and the application form.