Question 1 – What is an ABTC?

The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) is a card issued to business travellers and senior government officials who meet certain requirements. APEC manages the ABTC program, which it refers to as the ABTC scheme. The ABTC scheme seeks to facilitate travel in the APEC region.

Question 2 – Which APEC economies participate in the ATBC scheme?

Nineteen APEC economies are fully participating members to the ABTC scheme: 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, and Vietnam.

Two APEC economies are transitional members to the ABTC scheme: Canada and the United States.

Question 3 – What is the difference between fully participating members and transitional members?

Fully participating members participate in the preclearance aspect of the ABTC scheme, while transitional members do not. 

ABTC holders granted preclearance by an APEC economy do not need to make a separate application for a visa or entry permit when traveling to that economy.  

ABTC holders travelling to a transitional economy must present any visas, travel or other entry documents that are required by the transitional economy.

ABTC holders from transitional economies are not able to receive pre-clearance from fully participating economies and must therefore present any visas, travel or other entry documents that are required for entry to their destination economy.

The reverse side of an ABTC issued by a fully participating economy will list the economies to which the holder has been granted pre-clearance. The reverse side of an ABTC issued by a transitional economy will be blank.

Travellers are urged to check entry requirements of their destination APEC economy before travel. 

Both fully participating members and transitional members offer access to fast-track immigration lanes at participating airports.

Question 4 – What are the benefits of holding an ABTC?

The ABTC gives frequent business travellers:

  • Fast-track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at participating airports; and,
  • Multiple, short-term entries to precleared APEC economies without having to make a separate visa application to fully participating members.

Question 5 – Do I still need a visa and passport for entry into APEC economies?

When travelling to an APEC economy that is a fully participating member, ABTC holders do not need to submit a separate application for a visa if they have been granted preclearance to that economy. The granting of preclearance is at the discretion of each APEC economy and it remains the right of each APEC economy to determine who may travel to, enter, and remain in that economy even after a person has been issued an ABTC.

The ABTC is not intended to replace the passport. Valid passports remain a primary traveller identification document and ABTC holders will be required to present their passport and ABTC on arrival and departure in participating economies.

When travelling to an APEC economy that is a transitional member, ABTC holders will need to present any travel or identity documentation required, such as a passport and visa or a travel authorization.

Travellers are urged to check entry requirements of their destination APEC economy before travel. 

Question 6 – Can I only use my card to travel to economies that are listed on the back of my card?

Travellers are exempted from applying for a visa only from economies listed on the back of their ABTC. If you wish to travel to an economy that is not listed on the back of your ABTC, you must present any visa, travel or identity document that is required by your destination economy for entry. However, any cardholder can use the fast-track lane in APEC economies’ airports regardless of which economies’ names are listed on the back of the card.

Question 7 – How do I apply for an ABTC?

Each economy has their own set of guidelines and processes for applying for an ABTC, including application forms, fees, and applicant screening. Please refer to your home economy’s website or the following link for information on application.

Question 8 – What are the general eligibility criteria for ABTC applicants?
Each economy has its own set of eligibility criteria for ABTC applicants. Generally, applicants must be business persons who: 

  • are citizens of participating APEC economies, or in the case of Hong Kong China, permanent residents holding a Hong Kong permanent identity card; 
  • have never been convicted of a criminal offence;
  • hold a valid passport issued by the home economy or, in the case of Hong Kong China, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport or a valid travel document issued by another country or territory; and,
  • are bona fide business persons who may need to travel frequently on short term visits within the APEC region to fulfill business commitments. A bona fide business person is a person who is engaged in the trade of goods, the provision of services or the conduct of investment activities.

Senior government officials and officials actively engaged in APEC business may also be eligible for an ABTC.  

Each member economy is responsible for vetting their applicants and may impose additional eligibility criteria. Refer to your home economy for more information (link).  

Question 9 – What is the general process once my application is approved by my home economy?  

Interested individuals submit their applications to their home economy. For fully participating members, ABTC applications approved by the home economy are sent to all other fully participating members for preclearance consideration. Each fully participating member will assess the application against its own internal requirements. APEC economies independently process and issue any required visas and entry permits to eligible applicants as part of the preclearance process. The reverse side of the ABTC lists all the economies that have granted preclearance to the cardholder.

Question 10 – What is the average amount of time to get an ABTC?

In fully participating economies, each application takes at least two to three months to be processed, and in some instances longer as all fully participating members review the application for preclearance approvals. The period of time required to completely process an application may vary between economies. If the applicant has indicated their priority economies at the time of application, it may reduce the wait period for a card. Applicants are encouraged to submit the application for an ABTC at least three months before the expiry of their current card.

Question 11 – How long is the ABTC valid for?

APEC economies may issue cards with a maximum validity of five years. Please check the expiration date on your card. 

Question 12 – What should be done if I lose my ABTC? 

Lost or stolen cards should be reported to your home economy immediately. Contact your home economy to determine the requirements for reporting lost and stolen cards. Contact information for economies can be found through the following link.

Question 13 – Who should I contact if I have general or specific questions about the ABTC?

For questions pertaining to individual economies, please refer to the following link for contact information on the economy.

Question 14 – What should I do if my passport expires or is replaced?

ABTC holders must maintain a valid passport during the use of their card. Cardholders must renew their ABTC if their passport is renewed or replaced and their card makes reference to their previous passport information. Applicants will need to verify with their home economy on rules with regards to their passport and card validity. 

Question 15 – Can I use the ABTC for non-business purposes, such as tourism? 

The ABTC is not designed for tourism purposes, but some economies may facilitate entry for cardholders depending on their circumstances. Please refer to the relevant economy for individual entry arrangements for cardholders and tourist visits (link). 

In addition, the card cannot be used for travel by:

  • Students;
  • A business person’s spouse and children;
  • Persons who wish to engage in paid employment or a working holiday; or,
  • Professional athletes, news correspondents, entertainers, musicians, artists or persons engaged in similar occupations.