How To Get Your Own APEC Business Travel Card
If you are a frequent business traveler in the Asia Pacific region, you will want an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) of your own.
The ABTC, run by APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) makes life easier for business travelers, allowing you to save time applying for Visas and queuing in immigration.
Where and what is APEC?
APEC was established in 1989 to foster economic cooperation between countries along the Pacific Rim. Today, APEC comprises 21 economies including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, America, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
The APEC region is the largest business travel market in the world. According to McKinsey, APEC accounts for more than a third of $1 trillion in annual travel spending globally. The region’s corporate travel market is booming according to Amadeus and spending on business trips is expected to soar to $900 billion by 2025.
Those figures represent countless business people like you, making visa applications and standing in endless lines at immigration counters at airports around the world. The APEC Business Travel Card eliminates these hassles for business travelers in the Asia-Pacific region.
How does an APEC Business Travel Card make your business trip easier?
The APEC Business Travel Card is a handy travel document available to business travelers who are citizens of APEC participating economies. With this card, these travelers don’t need a visa when visiting other APEC participating economies, provided they received pre-clearance during the application process. Valid for five years, the card can save you tons of time, money and aggravation by giving you high-speed access through immigration and easier visa access to APEC economies.
There are an estimated 500,000 APEC travel cards currently in use around the world. The actual ABTC itself is about the size of a credit card. On one side it will list your personal information and on the other, it will list the countries you have been approved to enter without first applying for a visa.
The ABTC grants you pre-clearance for short-term business travel of up to 60 or 90 days within the APEC region.
Who is eligible for the APEC Business Travel Card?
You are eligible to apply for an ABTC if you are in possession of a valid passport from an APEC economy or are a permanent resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, if you regularly travel for business in the APEC region and don’t have a criminal record.
How do I apply for an APEC Business Travel Card?
This is a lengthy process, but at least authorities have simplified it by not requiring applicants to apply to every country they might want to visit. You make one application and you make it in the country or economy where you hold a valid passport.
Your own country then assesses your application and if it meets all the criteria, your application is forwarded to the other participating economies for approval.
As you can imagine, this takes quite a bit of time.
The process normally takes two to three months, but it can take longer. Keep in mind that, while your country may approve your application, each economy has its own rules regarding pre-clearance and you may not be approved by all countries.
Once all the countries have made their decisions regarding your pre-clearance application, you’ll receive your ABTC that will list all the APEC economies that have granted you approval.
Track your application progress
Once your home economy has approved your application, you can follow the progress of your application by using the ABTC Pre-clearance Status Tracker. American and Canadian citizens can track their application status through their TTP accounts.
What happens if i lose my APEC card?
If you lose your card or it gets stolen, you should report it to your home economy. Here is a link to the contact details for all economies. Contact yours for details on the procedures you need to follow.
You must have a valid passport in order to have an ABTC. If your passport must be renewed or for some reason needs to be replaced, you must apply for a new ABTC so it can reflect your new passport details. Check with your home economy on its requirements in this regard.
APEC Business Travel Card for Americans and Canadians
There are 19 APEC economies that are fully participating members of the ABTC scheme and two APEC economies that are transitional members, namely Canada and the United States.
These two economies don’t participate in the preclearance aspect of the ABTC scheme. This means that American and Canadian citizens are not allowed visa-free entry to other member states. And ABTC holders traveling to a transitional economy like the United States or Canada are also not allowed visa-free entry into these countries.
At any rate, if your ABTC was issued by a fully participating economy, you will be able to see on your ABTC which countries you are allowed to visit. If you have a card issued by the United States or Canada, the reverse side of your card will be blank.
However, this only applies to the visa aspect of the ABTC scheme. Both fully participating members and transitional members can skip the long waiting lines at airports and use fast-track immigration lanes at participating airports.
Ultimately, you are well advised to confirm the entry requirements of the APEC economy you plan to visit. This step will save you time and aggravation.
ABTC – A no-brainer for Asian Business Travelers
For business people in APEC who frequently travel to member countries to attend meetings, present at conferences or attend to their business interests, an APEC Travel Business Card is a boon that saves time and countless airport hassles. With your ABTC, you’ll be able to skip the long lines at airports and if you are from one of the fully participating APEC countries, you’ll also be able enter to without a visa. That’s the life!