Fast and efficient travel for business people within the APEC region contributes to APEC's goal of free and open trade and investment. To this end APEC has created an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). The ABTC allows business travelers pre-cleared, facilitated short-term entry to participating member economies. The ABTC removes the need to individually apply for visas or entry permits, saving valuable time, and allows multiple entries into participating economies during the three years the card is valid. Card holders also benefit from faster immigration processing on arrival via access to fast-track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at major airports in participating economies.
The ABTC also helps to enhance border integrity and security in participating economies by providing benefits to border agencies as it increases the number of low risk travelers since each applicant is checked against 'watch lists' of other participating economies. Therefore, it carries savings not only for business people but for governments, too.
APEC member economies fully participating in the scheme 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. Canada and the United States are transitional members of the scheme.
Canada and the United States are transitional members of the scheme. Canada is still working towards issuing cards to its own citizens. In the United States, legislation has been passed authorizing the issuance of ABTCs to eligible persons. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is in the process of commencing card issuance.
Since the creation of the scheme, in 1997, data indicates that the growth rate has continued to accelerate steadily. In 2007 the increase in applications received by the participating economies was more than 100% on a year-on-year basis. By March 2008, the active number of cards was more than 34,000, with the highest share reported by Australia (nearly 40% of the total amount issued).
In addition, according to the APEC Policy Support Unit study on “The Impact of Business Mobility in Reducing Trade Transaction Costs in APEC”, the ABTC scheme reduced transaction costs for ABTC holders by 38% between March-July 2010 and March-July 2011, representing a total savings of USD3.7 million. Total at-the-border immigration time savings experienced by ABTC holders for the period March-July 2010 through March-July 2011 is 62,413 hours, a monetary value of USD1.9 million.
For information about how to apply and contact details of ABTC authorities, please visit: http://travel.apec.org/apply.html
For frequently asked questions (FAQs), please visit: http://travel.apec.org/faqs.html