Looking for a better way to travel post-COVID? Check out the APEC Business Travel Card
In our COVID-stricken world one of the most-loved casualties of all has been travel. Whether for business or leisure, it’s always near everyone’s top of the list when talking about the things missed most about the world we’ve left behind.
But as we haltingly struggle out of the pandemic puddle, travel is once again on people’s mental agenda. Sure, it will be stop/start for a while and the airport vaccination and safety regulations will be a hassle for all, but everyone – all over the world – is looking forward to going global once again.
Forget Zoom. The new post-pandemic zeitgeist will revolve around actual travel – by air, sea and land, for business or leisure.
But if, for example, you’re a business traveller in the Asia Pacific region, how can you avoid the inevitable airport delays and hassles?
Post-pandemic, is there a better way to travel?
Introducing the APEC Business Travel Card
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) facilitates short-term business travel within the APEC region by streamlining the entry process into APEC economies. The card is based upon the ‘apply once, information used for multiple purposes’ approach which means that applicants are only required to make one application for permission to enter participating economies.
APEC is a multi-national coalition with 21 member countries. With the ABTC, successful applicants from fully participating economies are issued with a five-year card that serves as the entry authority to other fully participating economies which have granted pre-clearance for short-term business travel of up to 60 or 90 days
Range of valuable ABTC benefits and advantages
As a member of APEC’s business travel card program, you from:
1. Airport Fast-Track
First and foremost, ABTC holders can use the fast-track lanes at customs and immigration checkpoints throughout all 21 APEC member countries’ major airports.
Using APEC fast-track lanes at participating airports dramatically reduces your time spend waiting in immigration and customs, contributing to a smoother and more convenient overall traveling experience.
2. Visa-Free Travel
APEC cardholders do not need to apply for visas before visiting any of the full participatory countries listed on their cards.
This unique benefit eliminates the need to apply — and pay — for multiple short-term visa entries, saving businesses considerable money on total business travel expenditures.
Remember, though, that cardholders traveling to the U.S. and Canada will still need to present a visa upon arrival at customs and immigration. Currently neither of these countries permit pre-clearance to any APEC citizens.
You will also need to apply for and present the appropriate visa for any full-participatory economy not listed on the backside of your ABTC. Unlisted countries have not approved your pre-clearance and will require you to present visas and any other relevant travel documents upon arrival and departure.
3. Multiple Entries Permitted
APEC business travel card members are allowed multiple entries within a consecutive 90-day period across all pre-cleared economies — without needing to have a cumbersome and expensive multiple-entry visa.
4. Reduced Travel Logistics
Overall, the combination of express immigration lanes, multiple county entries in one trip, and visa-free travel to pre-cleared countries means simpler traveling overall. Businesses benefit from reduced travel expenses, while individual cardholders receive priority treatment at airport checkpoints, plus fewer bureaucratic headaches before and during every single trip.
What countries participate in APEC Cards?
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Do you qualify for the APEC Business Card?
Every APEC economy maintains its own eligibility standards that applicants must meet to become a cardholder.
However, several requirements cover all 21 current APEC countries for applicants to clear to be eligible for the program.
- ABTC applicants must be considered a “bona fide” or “good faith” businesspersons.
A bona fide business traveler’s case is the most significant criterion for APEC card membership. To prove that “good faith” status, applicants must provide:
- Verifiable employment and a job title within an established, tax-registered company.
- Frequent international travel to APEC economies as a primary responsibility of their role.
- Documented, international business commitments in APEC economies related to finance, trade of goods, raw material procurement, investments, and other provisional services.
- Be a citizen of an APEC Economy
- No criminal history
- Valid passport
Applicants must already hold a valid passport from their home country APEC nation, be that a full participatory or transitional one. Except for residents of Hong Kong who must hold a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport.
- Government officials
Senior government officials whose appointments dictate frequent, consistent travel to APEC nations are also candidates for ABTC. In many cases, these government officials’ applications tend to receive priority treatment and expedited approval timelines.
How to Apply for an ABTC
Applying for an APEC business travel card is a multi-phased process that works in a similar manner to applying for passports.
Like to know more?
For a comprehensive list of APEC country travel card questions information, consult your home economy’s dedicated ABTC website as well as the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s own Q&A resources.