Hello APEC Business Travel Card

Jun 3, 2017 4:08:00 PM / by Vu Long Tran

What is the APEC Business Travel card?

You may or may not have heard of the APEC Business Travel card (ABTC). It's a business travel card that allows for fast and efficient travel for business people within the Asia Pacific region.

APEC countries or economies, where the ABTC reciprocal entry arrangements are available in nearly all APEC economies, including:

  • Australia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • China
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Chile
  • Hong Kong (SAR China)
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • the Philippines
  • the Russian Federation
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Please note that Canada and the United States are transitional members of the schemeTransitional members do not offer reciprocal entry arrangements, but do provide fast track immigration processing at major international airports.

APEC countries allow for:

  • visa free travel (for 60-90 days)
  • fast entry into their countries
The Australian Border Protection Agency terms it as the following:
  • identifies your passport details
  • lists the economies you can enter and stay in (for a period of up to 60 or 90 days, depending on the economy) without separately applying for a visa
  • provides access to fast-track entry and exit lanes at major airports of participating economies
  • is valid for five years from the date of issue, or until your passport expires, whichever is earlier.
More details via the APEC Travel handbook.

Requirements for the APEC Business Travel card

You are required to apply to the agency responsible for the ABTC in your home country. Each country's requirements are different.
I hold an Australian passport, so here's details that I followed to gain access to this card
  • Australian citizen business people will be able to apply online for the ABTC. Current cost is $200 AUD - Last checked 30 May 2020.
You can get an ABTC if:
  • You travel frequently to an APEC economy other than Australia or your place of residence (constituting a minimum of four visits during the previous 12 month period).
  • You have not been convicted of a criminal offence.
You are either:
    • the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or regional or country head of a registered business entity
    • an owner or director of a registered business entity
    • a board member of a registered business entity
    • the CEO or CFO of an Australian-based business peak body
    • a Vice President, Executive, Director, Senior Manager or similar
    • an employee of a registered business entity nominated by the CEO, CFO, regional head, owner or director of the organisation. See the Pro-forma nomination letter (20KB PDF)
    • a senior government official (defined as a member of the Australian Public Service who is at the Senior Executive Service level or above, or a state/territory equivalent)
Your business entity or Australian-based peak business body must be engaged in international trade or investment between APEC economies. See Business assessment below for details. If you are living outside Australia, you must have permission to live and work within this economy of residence. Applicants may be required to provide evidence of their work and residence permit with their application.
Based on what I am seeing on the Australian Border Protection website, they are always improving the process. Making it an online process which is great news and I hope will speed up the process.
That said, here's some details on my recent application for the card.

Step 1. Apply following the application form

I applied back in November 2016. I sent my application directly by registered mail to Brisbane  Australian Border Protection.  
As one can lodge your form by post, courier or in person at the APEC Business Travel Card Unit in their Brisbane office​. Electronic or faxed applications are not accepted. You are not required to send in your passport. 
By mail to: 
APEC Business Travel Card Scheme Department of Immigration and Border Protection GPO Box 9984 BRISBANE QLD 4000 
By courier to: 
APEC Business Travel Card Scheme Department of Immigration and Border Protection Level 2, 299 Adelaide St BRISBANE QLD 4000

Step 2. Wait for APEC Business Travel Card approval

Once they have received your application, they will take a non-refundable fee. 
They are really good at keeping you updated via email. I received this notification once it was received by the agency. "Receipt and Acknowledgement of Application for an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)"
They will then let you know if and once it has been approved. 

Step 3. Wait for APEC Business Travel Card approval by each country

I really liked that they had a business card status page where you can see your pre-clearance with the various countries, as each and every country will review and approve your application accordingly.

Step 4. Your APEC Business Travel Card will then be delivered

You'll receive a notification that your Apec Business Travel Card has been printed and will be delivered. It is sent via registered mail to your address. It ultimately arrived early May 2017 for me.
This is an automated email to advise you that an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) has been issued to you today. Applicants in Australia can expect to receive their card in approximately ten (10) business days. Applicants residing overseas can expect to receive their card in fifteen (15) business days.

Step 5. Happy traveling!


Appendix. Short-Term Business Visits to APEC Economies

Here's a quick Short-Term Business Visits to ABTC (APEC Business Travel Card( summary  from the APEC.org website.
Happy traveling!
Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC. ex-@Forrester consultant. Writing on #cloud #howto guides and #tech tinkering!