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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 as they like to call it include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Although Canada and the United States are transitional members of the scheme, which means that have one foot involvement in this program, but are not providing the full benefits as the other member countries.

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
  • From 1 July 2017 Australian citizen business people will be able to apply online for the ABTC. Current cost is $200 AUD.
  • 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
      • an employee of a registered business entity nominated by the CEO, CFO, regional head, owner or director of the organisation.
      • a senior government official – contact us for the eligibility requirements before you apply.
    • 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. Attach a copy of your work permit or residency permit to your application form. We will verify the permit in consultation with the relevant economy.
Based on what I am seeing on the Australian Border Protection website, they are improving the process. Making it an online process from this year July 2017 onwards. This 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 the 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. http://www.businessmobility.org/key/CardStatus.asp

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 APEC Economies guide from the APEC.org website. 
Please visit the link for the most recent details on the visa and short term visit allowances. 
Short-Term Business Visits  to APEC Economies  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Australia  
Australia  has a universal visa requirement.   
Nationals of all APEC member economies (except NZ) wishing to travel to Australia for busine ss purposes should apply for a t emporary Business (Short Stay) visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before their departure.  
Australia  allows streamlined entry for A PEC Business Travel Card  holders for up to 3 months.   
Applicants may obtain an ETA by vis iting, telephoning or faxing a participating  travel agent ,  or by applying online.   
Applicants from non-ETA APEC economies must complete a Temporary Business (Short Stay) visa form (456) and lodge their application at an Australian overseas mission through a representative, travel agent, or by mail.  
Applications forms are available online.  
There are two types  of ETA for business travellers:    
●  the subclass 956  (long validity)  ETA allows multiple entry for the life of the passport . The maximum period of stay is 3 months on each entry.  
  ●  the subclass 977  (short validity)  ETA allows  multiple  entry and is valid for travel to  Australia  within 12 months of the date it is issued. The maximum period of stay is 3 months on each entry.  
The subclass 456 Business (Short Stay) visa allows entry to  Australia  for up to 3 months and may be issue d for either single or multiple  entry.  
Yes  
Brunei  Darussalam  
Most foreign nationals need a valid visa to enter Brunei Darussalam.   
Nationals of certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements for social, business or professional visits for certain periods .  
Brunei Darussalam allows streamlined entry for  APEC Business Travel Card holders for up to 3 months.  
An application may be lodged at the nearest Bru nei Darussalam overseas mission,  or through a local sponsor in Brunei Darussalam to the Department of Immigration and National Registration.  
The short term professional/business visit visa in  Brunei  is valid for up to 3 months with a maximum period of stay of up to 3 months.  
Multiple entry visas are issued on application.  
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Canada  
Foreign nationals of certain APEC economies require a Temporary Residency (visitor) visa for business visits.   
Canada  does not participate in the APEC Business Travel Card scheme.  
An application may be lodged at the nearest Canadian overseas mission.  
Single entry visas are granted for a maximum stay of up to 6 months.  
Multiple entry visas are issued on application, but are not granted automatically.   
Multiple entry visas have a 5 years validity period and a 6 month maximum stay period.    
.  
Yes  
Chile  
Most foreign n ationals need a valid visa to enter  Chile . There is no specific visa for business purposes. People traveling for business purposes should apply for a tourist visa.   
Nationals of certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa exemption agreements.   
Chile  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel Card holders for up to  90 days.  
An application may be lodged in person at a Chilean Consulate overseas.  
Visas granted to business visitors  are valid for up to 90 days, and  can be extended for a single period of 90 days.  
Chile  issues multiple entry tourist visas which can be extended for a maximum of 6 months ,  upon request.   
Yes  
China  
Foreign nationals require a Visa F to visit, teach, do business, or for cultural, scientific or technological exchanges for less than 6 months in  China  
China  allows streamlined entry for foreign nationals with an APEC  Business  Travel Card for  2 months.  
For foreign nationals with a Visa D, Z, X, J-1,  an application should be lodged personally with the  Exit-and-Entry Administration Division  of the local Public Security Department within 30 days of entry into  China .  
A ‘Visa F’ is valid for  a period of  3 months,  6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years or 5 years.     
High-level business people can apply for a multiple entry ‘Visa F’ for a period ranging from  2  to 5 years.  The maximum of each stay period can be 6 months.  
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Hong Kong,  China  
Nationals   of   about  170  foreign  countries and territories may come  to  Hong Kong China  ( Hong Kong for  business, social or pleasure  visit s  visa-free for a stay ranging from  7  to 180 days .  
There is no specific visa for business purposes.  Persons wishing to visit  Hong Kong  for business purposes  but not enjoy ing  the visa waiver concession  should apply for visit visa.  
Hong Kong  a llow s streamlined entry  for  foreign nationals with an APEC Business Travel Card for a stay of 60 days.  
Applications for visit visa  (other than from  Chinese residents of  the  Mainland  of  China and Chinese residents of Chinese Taipei should  be submitted by post directly or through  the local  sponsor  in  Hong Kong   to the Hong Kong Immigration Department.   Applicants residing in overseas countries or territories  may submit their applications to the nearest Chinese diplomatic and consular mission in their place of domicile.    Holders of foreign passports who are living in  the  Mainland  of  China may submit the applications to the Immigration Division of the Office of the Government of the H ong  K ong  S pecial  A dministrative  R egion  in  Beijing .  
Chinese residents of Chinese Taipei may apply for  entry permit for  visit  or  iPermit   through an authorised airline office  in Chinese Taipei .  
The validity of a single - journey  visit  visa is normally  3  months and of a multiple - journey  visit  visa is 6 to 24 months.   The duration of stay allowed for each entry shall be determined by the Hong Kong Immigration Department.  
Applications for  multiple -journey visit  visa  are  considered flexibly on a case-by-case basis.  
Yes  
Indonesia  
Foreign nationals require one of the following visas to enter  Indonesia  for business purposes; Multiple Business Entry Visa (VKUBP), Business Visitor Visa (VKU), Visa on Arrival (VKSK), and Visa Waiver Facility (BVKS).       
Indonesia  allows streamli ned entry for APEC  Business  Travel  Card holders for 2 months.     
An application for VKUBP and VKU visas can be made in person or by proxy at the nearest  Indonesia  mission overseas or; the applicant’s sponsor or representative in  Indonesia  can lodge the application on their behalf in  Indonesia .  
Business Visitors Visas (VKU) are valid for 3 months from the date of issue. The maximum period of stay is 60 days.  
                                                                       
Multiple Business Entry Visas (VKUBP) are valid for one year. The maximum period of stay is also 60 days.  
A visa on arrival is valid for between 3 and 30 days.   
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Japan  
Foreign nationals require a Temporary Visitors Visa for entry to  Japan  for business for a period of less than 90 days.  
Nationals of certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa waiver  arrangements .  
Japan  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel Card holders for 2 months.   
Applications should be lodged in person  or by an agent  at the nearest Japanese Consulate or Embassy. An interview is necessary only when requested by the consular official.    
Single-entry temporary visitors visas are valid for 3 months. The maximum period of stay is 90 days.   
Multiple entry visas are issued for business persons on applications, and are valid for between 1 year and 5 years. The maximum period of stay is 90 days.  
      
Yes   
Korea  
Foreign nationals require a   C-2 Status Short Term Business Visa for entry to  Korea  
Nationals from certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa waiver agreements.   
Korea  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Card holders for  90 days  
Applications should be lodged at a Korean overseas diplomatic mission closest to the applicant's place of residence.   
Application forms can be obtained from the Korean missions overseas or can be downloaded from the Internet.   
An interview is only necessary when requested by the consular officer.  
For short-term business visas the maximum period of stay is 90 days   
Under visa waiver agreements, maximum periods of stay vary from 30 days to 6 months.  
                                                                                                                              
Multiple entry visas for the nationals of  Australia Canada China Japan  and  United States  will be granted on application pursuant to relevant bilateral agreements.  
Yes, although some economies are exempt from fee payment under reciprocal agreements.  
Malaysia  
Foreign nationals require a Short-Term Business Visa for entry to  Malaysia  
Visa on arrival facilities are available to business persons from the majority of APEC economies.   
Malaysia  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel Card holders for 2 months.  
Application should be lodged at the nearest Malaysian overseas mission.    
Interviews may be required.  
Visit passes granted to visitors on arrival are valid for up to three months depending on nationality.  
Multiple entry visas are granted upon approval of visa applications.  
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Mexico  
Nationals from certain APEC economies require a visa to enter  Mexico  and are required to complete  the blue business visitor migratory form FMTTV.  
Foreign nationals from APEC economies entering under visa waiver agreements must complete the blue business visitors’ migratory form FMTTV.  
Mexico  allows streamlined entry for APEC Card holders at major airports.  Visas are still required upon attendance at these lanes.  
Visa applications and the FM3 should be lodged personally at the Mexican Embassy or Consulate closest to the applicant’s place of residence.  
The migratory form FMTTV can be obtained aboard airlines traveling to  Mexico  or at border points of entry. Travelers must present the completed form at the border point of entry.  
.                
The maximum period of stay for entrants under the Migratory Form for Business Visitors (FMTTV) is  180  days.   
Business visitors holding a FMTTV who wish es  to stay more than  180  days, may obtain a FM3 Migratory  form that allows business visitors multiple entry with a stay length up to 1 year renewable 4 more times.  
Yes  
New Zealand  
Foreign nationals require a visitor’s visa for entry to  New Zealand .  
Nationals from certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa waiver agreements for a stay no longer than 3 months in any 1 year.  
New Zealand  allows streamlined entry for APEC Card holders for 3 months.    
Applications may be lodged personally, by an agent, or by post at the  New Zealand  diplomatic mission or New Zealand Immigration Service office in the applicant's place of residence.  
A formal interview is not usually necessary but may be required in some circumstances.  
The maximum period of stay for a person with a business visitor's visa is a 3 month period in any one year.  
The maximum period of stay under visa waiver arrangements is also a 3 month period in any one year.   
Multiple entry visas are available to frequent visitors upon request.  
Yes  
Papua New Guinea  
Foreign nationals require a short-term business entry visa for entry to PNG.  
PNG allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel cardholders for 2 months.    
Applications should be lodged at the nearest PNG Mission or the nearest Australian mission or (in some cases) upon arrival at  Jackson   International   Airport Port Moresby .  
Applicants are not required to lodge their visa applications personally. A formal interview is not required.  
The maximum period of stay for a single entry visa is 60 days.  
Multiple entry visas are valid for 12 months.         
                                                                                                                        
Yes  
Peru  
Foreign nationals require a visitor’s visa for entry to  Peru .  
Peru  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel for 3 months, which may be extended for an additional thirty days.  
Applications should be lodged personally at a Peruvian Consular Office.      
The validity period for a visitor’s visa is 90 days from the date of issue.   
A Business Visa can be issued for multiple entries within 90 days of the first entry.  
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Philippines  
Most foreign nationals can enter the  Philippines  visa-free for a period of 21 days  or less  provided they possess a valid passport and a return ticket.  
For a stay of more than 21 days, foreign nationals are required to secure an entry visa at the Philippine Embassies/Consulates prior to their travel to the  Philippines .      
The  Philippines  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel cardholders for a maximum stay of 59 days.  
Visa a pplications should be  filed  at the Philippine diplomatic mission nearest to the applicant’s  country of origin or  place of  legal  residence.   
An interview may be required. Application forms can be downloaded  from  each post’s website.  
The maximum period of stay  for  visa free  entry  is 21 days .    
A single-entry visa is valid for 3 months.     
A multiple-entry visa is valid for six months or one year.    
                                                  
Yes  
Russia  
Foreign nationals require a tourist or business visa that allows for single, double or multiple entry to  Russia .  
An application must include an invitation from a Russian citizen or a company. There are several agencies accredited by the Russian MFA to issue these invitations.  
A visa is valid for the same period described in the invitation. This could be a period of 30 days, 90 days, 6 months or 12 months.   
Multiple-entry visas are available.  
Singapore  
(For non- ABTC holders and Holders of ABTC without Singapore’s pre-clearance)   
Among APEC economies, only nationals from Russia, the People's Republic of China, and holders of Hong Kong Document of Identity, are required to apply for a visa prior to their arrival in Singapore.  
Singapore allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel cardholders for at least 60 days upfront if they satisfy Singapore’s basic entry requirements and the ABTC presented for clearance is valid for Singapore.  
Visa applications can be made at the nearest  Singapore   O verseas  M ission  or through a Singapore-registered company in Singapore who will submit the visa application online via the Submission of Application for Visa Electronically (SAVE) system to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). A letter of introduction (LOI) by a Singapore-registered company is required to support your visa application. Interviews may be required. Application forms can be downloaded from ICA's website at  http://www.ica.gov.sg    
A visa is usually valid for 5 weeks and can be valid up to 5 years.  
The initial period of stay granted to all business persons upon arrival in  Singapore  is usually 1 month.   
The period of stay can be extended upon application for up to 3 months.  
Multiple entry visas may  be granted upon approval of the visa application.  
Yes  
Chinese  Taipei  
Foreign nationals require a visitor’s visa to enter Chinese Taipei.   
Nationals from certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa waiver agreements.  
Chinese Taipei allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel cardholders for 3 months.  
Applications should be submitted to a Chinese Taipei embassy, consulate or representative office.       
Applicants are not required to submit the visa application in person, except when an interview is considered necessary for screening purposes.   
A visitor’s visa is valid from three months up to one year.   
The maximum period of stay will be between 14 days and 90 days.  Multiple entry visas may be granted in some circumstances.      
Visa-exemption arrangements allow for a maximum period of stay of 30 days.   
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
Thailand  
Foreign nationals  who wish to make business visits to  Thailand , or undertake investment activities in  Thailand , are required to obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa Category “B” before entering the Kingdom.  
Those who wish to work in  Thailand  further are required to obtain a work permit.  
Nationals from certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa waiver agreements  
Thailand  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel card   holders for  a 90 day stay. .  
Applications should be lodged at any Thai Embassy or Consulate.   
Visa application from may be downloaded from   
Addresses of  Thailand ’s diplomatic and consular missions are available at  
www.thaiembassy.org  
single-entry N on- I mmigrant  V isa is valid for  months.   
Multiple-entry  Non-Immigrant Visa is  available valid for  year.  
Short-Term Business Visitors may apply for 3-year multiple-entry Non-Immigrant Visa.  
All Non-Immigrant Visa holders would be granted an initial 90-day stay permit in the Kingdom, and may apply for an extension of stay permit where necessary at any Immigration office.  
Yes  
Visa Requirements    
Place and Method of  Lodgement  
Visa Validity, Maximum Period of Stay and Access to Multiple Entry  
Application Fee Payable  
United States  
Foreign nationals require a   B-1 visa to enter for business purposes.  
Foreign travelers, from certain eligible countries,  may   be able to visit the  U.S.  without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the  United States  for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.     The following APEC economies are participating in Visa Waiver Program:  Australia Brunei Japan New Zealand  and  Singapore  
The  United States   does have fast tracked access for ABTC holders at all international airports in the  United States . Visas are still required by existing  United States  law for some economies.  
Applicants for visitor visas should apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.   
Although visa applicants may apply at any  U.S.  consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.  
   
Validity of B-1 visas:  visitors are admitted for the time necessary to complete business, to a maximum of 1 year.  
Visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94  Record of Arrival-Departure may apply for an extension of stay with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by submitting Form I-539,  Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status , prior to the expiration date on their Form I-94,  Arrival/Departure Record . Note that visitors admitted under the Visa Waiver Program and issued a Form I-94W are  not  eligible to extend their stay in the  United States  
Multiple entry visas can be issued depending on the needs of the traveler and the circumstances of a traveler's case.  
Yes  
Vietnam  
Foreign nationals require a visa to enter  Vietnam .  
Nationals from certain APEC economies are exempted from visa requirements under visa waiver agreements.  
Vietnam  allows streamlined entry for APEC Business Travel Cardholders   and  Temporary Resident Card .     
Applications should be lodged at the Vietnamese embassy or consulate closest to the applicant’s place of residence in person, by an agent or, by mail.   
A personal interview with the applicant is not required. A visa can be issued at the port of entry in certain circumstances.  
The validity period for visas depends on the purpose of the applicant’s visit and usually varies from 15 days to 12 months.   
There are two kinds of multiple entry visas:  
●  Multiple entry-exit visas valid for less than 6 months.  
●  Multiple entry-exit visas valid for between 6 months and 1 year.  
The period of stay for ABTC holders is 90 days for each entry.  
Yes  
Fee exempted if there are bilateral agreements between  Vietnam  and other countries or regions.  
Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC @pymetrics . ex-@Forrester consultant. Tweeting on #cloud, #cybersecurity, #equality and #tech tinkering!

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