The Business Mobility Group (BMG) was formed in 1997 when the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) made the facilitation of business travel a priority. Since the BMG’s establishment, the group has regularly consulted with the business community.
The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)
The biggest milestone of the BMG’s collaboration with ABAC was the development of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), which provides business people faster and easier entry to economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
The ABTC scheme improves business growth for senior company or board executives and directors who travel frequently to an APEC economy for business purposes. Many senior government officials also use an ABTC for APEC-related engagements.
By as early as 1999, the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) agreed that the scheme should operate on a permanent basis as of 1 March of that year and it has grown since. Currently there are more than 340,000 active ABTCs across the APEC region.
In 2013, APEC Economic Leaders recognized the increasing need for more efficient flows of goods, services, capital and people. APEC intends to accelerate our region’s physical, institutional, and people-to-people connectivity through a long-term commitment. The BMG was tasked to further the work on travel facilitation which includes enhancing the APEC Business Travel Card scheme.
On 1 September 2015, the validity of the ABTC was extended from three to five years. This significantly improved the user experience for cardholders by reducing the need to apply for a new card as frequently. Further, the extension created additional efficiencies for users and economies through a reduction in processing times, printing and distribution costs.
The virtual ABTC
The BMG has responded to the modernization and digitization of global travel. To ensure that APEC travel is positioned for the future, the BMG endorsed the implementation of a virtual ABTC. This complements initiatives such as advance traveler clearance and the increase of visa-free entry across the world, for example.
The virtual ABTC is an innovative new method for travelling on the ABTC. It brings the existing Scheme into the digital era, providing the much-valued service on cardholder’s smart devices. The virtual ABTC is a more secure, efficient, convenient and user-friendly service. Importantly, it provides real-time updates, so that a cardholder can immediately benefit from using their virtual-ABTC. Travelling on the ABTC will allow for the same streamlined and VIP service existing cardholders have come to enjoy, and in addition will provide an alternative method for producing and presenting their card when entering and exiting an Economy.
The virtual ABTC is now available for ABTC cardholders
From 1 March 2021, all member economies can allow entry to virtual ABTC cardholders. Member economies that have transitioned to the virtual platform so far include:
- Australia – 1 March 2021
- Brunei Darussalam – 1 July 2021
- Chile – 1 July 2021
- Indonesia – 1 July 2021
- Mexico – 23 April 2021
- New Zealand – 2 August 2021
- Papua New Guinea – 1 July 2021
- Peru – 28 May 2021
- Philippines – 24 November 2021
The introduction of the virtual ABTC does not change current international port of entry processing when cardholders enter an Economy on the ABTC—the cardholder is simply required to present their virtual ABTC on their smart device (just as they would present the physical card as instructed) either when entering the APEC fast track lane or an Economy.
(Note: Until further notice Russia will NOT accept the virtual ABTC, therefore participating APEC Economies that only have access to the virtual ABTC will need to apply for an additional visa to enter Russia)
For more information, including introduction videos to the virtual ABTC for cardholders and port officials see the ABTC and Virtual ABTC webpages (link in Resources Section).
Last page update: December 2021
The BMG and its subgroups will meet at the First and Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1 and SOM3) of 2022. More information on the meetings will be released soon.
Projects and/or initiatives
- (APEC Funded) BMG01 2020A “Capacity Building Workshop on Improving the utilization of the ABTC”, Indonesia. In the context of the Project a Virtual Workshop was held on 14–15 September 2021. Click here for more information.