APEC Business travel card
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The Ultimate Guide to the APEC Business Travel Card

Dec 5th, 2022

If you travel abroad for business, then I am sure you know how spending time in the airport and managing travel can be exhausting, especially without an APEC business travel card.

For those who travel abroad for work, you probably spend a good chunk of your time waiting in immigration lines. To make matters more confusing, every country has their own requirements for entry. 

That’s why many international business people apply for the APEC business travel card. This document helps frequent fliers traveling for business streamline the immigration progress in 21 countries (and counting)!

This article gives a detailed guide to the APEC business travel card, and some background on why applying benefits people who travel to any of the participating countries for business. 

What is the APEC?

Formed in 1989, APEC stands for Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation. The organization was established to help open dialogue about trade and economics internationally. There are 21 countries that belong to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and they work together to make global business easier and support international economic growth. Each government has approved the agreement. 

What is the business travel card (ABTC)? 

The travel card (ABTC) program was established to make short-term business travel entry-and-exit processing faster and more efficient between the participating APEC economies.  

Once approved for the APEC travel card (ABTC), applicants can successfully move between participating countries with pre-clearance and fast-track immigration. They can remain in a participating country on business for up to 90 days. It also gives members express entry lanes in each country's major international airports, which helps expedite the travel process.  

What are the key benefits of the APEC business travel card (ABTC)? 

The main benefits of holding an APEC business travel card (ABTC) include: 

  • Express immigration, which allows for faster entry and exit in each international airport that is a fully participating member of the APEC.

  • Once you apply for one travel card (ABTC), you will have access to multiple countries for business travel without having to apply for different visas. 

What countries participate in the APEC travel card (ABTC)? 

As of right now, there are 19 fully participating and engaged APEC members for the business travel card: 

  • Australia

  • Brunei Darussalam

  • Chile

  • China

  • Hong Kong (China) 

  • Indonesia

  • Japan 

  • Korea

  • Malaysia

  • Mexico 

  • New Zealand

  • Papua New Guinea

  • Peru

  • The Philippines

  • The Russian Federation

  • Singapore 

  • Chinese Taipei

  • Thailand

  • Vietnam

On top of the 19 fully participating countries, the United States and Canada are two transitional members, as these countries have stronger border protections in place.

You will always need to provide a list of ALL of the countries you will be traveling to in the next five years in the initial APEC application. If you do not list APEC countries in your travel plans, you will still need to go through the pre-screening and pre-clearance check upon arrival to international airports. 

What is the difference between fully participating and transitional APEC members?

The key difference between fully participating and transitional members is that for the 19 fully participating members, a pre-clearance check is a benefit of holding the APEC business travel card (ABTC). For the United States of America and Canada, the two transitional members, the pre-clearance check is not included; however, card holders can use the fast-track lanes at international airports in US and Canada. 

In the United States and Canada, you will still need to provide proof of visa and other required immigration documents when you arrival at the customs and border check.

Who is eligible? 

Eligibility for the APEC business travel card (ABTC) is available to anyone who travels for business related trips (including trade and investment activities) in the 21 participating countries.

Eligibility criteria to be approved and considered includes:  

  • A valid passport

  • Must travel frequently for business related matters

  • No history of criminal offenses 

  • Proof of international travel for trade or investment purposes

Depending on where you plan to travel, certain countries may have their own additional requirements for entry. 

In addition to travel card application approval, you still need to show your passport upon arrival and departure in each country. The APEC travel card (ABTC) does not replace your passport; it simply expedites the process for business travelers. Always make sure to do ample research on each country’s travel and visa requirements.

The APEC travel card is only for business travel. If you plan to visit a country that is a member for any personal reasons, you will still need to fill out the appropriate travel and visa documents. 

Why your business should consider an APEC business travel card (ABTC)

The APEC business travel card (ABTC) is meant for those who travel frequently for international business and trade opportunities. If you need to travel more than a few times a year globally, consider applying for an APEC business travel card (ABTC) to streamline the process. 

Depending on what your needs are as a business traveler, you should do research on the application process for the card. It can help take your company into the international marketplace by giving you more chances to expand–which is normally a plus as you grow. 

Traveling for business already takes a lot out of you. Why wouldn’t you want to make the entire experience smoother? 

Why companies choose Via

Many businesses want to expand internationally, but are unsure of how to navigate the global marketplace. Via makes hiring international talent seamless. With our easy-to-use hiring and employment platform, Via manages the local HR processes for employment such as work visas and permits, benefits, payroll, background checks, and other services without opening a business entity. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad, including having all of the right information. As your employer-or-record/entity, Via assumes responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team. 

With Via’s transparent pricing, you can pay full-time employees or contractors across borders with no hidden set-up fees, no foreign exchange or transaction fees, and no minimums–start with 1 employee and scale up at your own pace. You can get started in 1-2 business days with our EOR services.

Need help building your global team?

Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
My name is Janelle Watson and I'm a Colorado native. I have a BA in English from University of Colorado Colorado Springs and an MA in English from University of Colorado Denver. Before moving to blog and copywriting, I was an English teacher for 3 years at the University of Colorado in Denver. Prior to writing for Via, I wrote reviews and content for a local concert and promotion company in Denver.

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Frequently asked questions

  • What does an APEC business travel card do? 

  • Can any US citizen apply for the APEC card? 

  • What countries does the APEC card cover? 

  • How much does the APEC card cost?