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. One outcome of the BMG’s collaboration with ABAC was the development of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). The APEC Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) agreed that the scheme should commence operations on a permanent basis as of 1 March 1999. Currently there are more than 340,000 active ABTCs across the APEC region.
The modernization and digitization of global travel, along with the increase of visa-free entry across the world, puts pressure on the BMG to ensure that the ABTC Scheme remains relevant, efficient and effective in this rapidly changing world all the while ensuring its integrity. To ensure that the BMG are evolving as a group and looking to the future, they have recently endorsed the development of the virtual ABTC .
Virtual ABTCs are now available for ABTC cardholders from New Zealand
From 2 August 2021, all Member Economies should now also allow entry to virtual ABTC holders from New Zealand following New Zealand’s transition to a virtual platform.
Virtual ABTCs are now available for Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea
From 1 July 2021, all Member Economies should allow entry to virtual ABTC cardholders from the following seven Economies following the transition of four more Member Economies to the virtual platform.
- Brunei Darussalam
- Papua New Guinea
Virtual ABTCs now available for Peruvian ABTC holders
From 28 May 2021 onwards, all member economies should allow entry to virtual ABTC holders from Peru following Peru’s transition to a virtual platform for Peruvian ABTC holders and applicants.
Virtual ABTCs now available for Mexican ABTC holders
From 23 April 2021, Mexico will begin issuing virtual ABTCs to Mexican ABTC holders and applicants.
Therefore, Member Economies will be required to accept Mexican ABTC holders using their virtual ABTCs from 23 April 2021 onwards.
Virtual ABTC now available for Australian ABTC holders
From 1 March 2021, all Australian ABTC holders have access to the virtual ABTC.
Travelling on a virtual ABTC allows for the same streamlined and VIP service that physical cardholders currently enjoy, but will provide an alternative method for cardholders to travel on and when presenting their entry permission when entering and exiting APEC Economies.
Member Economies can expect to start seeing Australian ABTC holders using their virtual ABTCs from 1 March 2021 onwards.
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.
For more information, including introduction videos to the virtual ABTC for cardholders and port officials see the virtual ABTC web page.
Virtual APEC Business Travel Card Launched during APEC Leaders’ Week 2020
20 November 2020
Issued by the APEC Business Mobility Group
As the APEC Business Mobility Group (BMG) Convenor, I am pleased to confirm the virtual APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) was officially launched during APEC Leaders’ Week in November 2020.
The virtual ABTC is an innovative new method for travelling on the ABTC and 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 and 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, but will provide an alternative method for producing and presenting their card when entering and exiting an Economy.
Each Economy will determine its own timeline to transition to the virtual ABTC for its cardholders; however, from March 2021 we expect to see the first travellers in the region using the virtual ABTC. Australia will be the first APEC Economy to transition to this superior service for all Australian cardholders and I look forward to seeing other Economies transition as soon as possible thereafter.
I encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the features of this new service reading the FAQs. Please consult with your Home Economy for further details.
Advancing Regional Economic Integration
One outcome of the BMG’s collaboration with ABAC was the development of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). Frequent business travellers that are approved ABTC holders can enjoy streamlined entry into participating APEC economies.
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. BMG has been 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. In turn, the extension created additional efficiencies for users and economies through a reduction in processing times, printing and distribution costs.
To improve information available to ABTC holders, participating members are preparing a survey on pre-clearance policies, regulatory settings, and have fielded answers to frequently asked questions.
Virtual ABTC ‘Soft Launch’ Announcement to Senior Business Leaders of the APEC Business Advisory Council
The Convenor of the APEC Business Mobility Group, Ms Kimberlee Stamatis met with senior business leaders of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) at the first ABAC Conference for APEC 2020 held in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday 12 February to announce the development of the virtual ABTC ahead of its planned official launch at APEC Leaders ’ Week in Malaysia 2020.
“ABAC was instrumental in the establishment of the Business Mobility Group in 1997 so it makes sense to work with the Council in the lead up to the official launch of the virtual ABTC. ABAC is a strong and powerful voice in the APEC structure so their influence cannot be underestimated,” said Ms Stamatis.
Ms Stamatis delivered a presentation and demonstrated the features of the pilot of the virtual ABTC, including to the incoming ABAC Chair for 2021 and the ABAC Australia and New Zealand representatives.
This soft launch aims to promote the ABTC and publicize the development of the virtual ABTC for the awareness of senior business leaders of the APEC community. The development of the virtual ABTC gained the keen interest of senior business leaders of the ABAC community, with multiple participants excited for what the digitalization of the ABTC means for the ABTC Scheme and business mobility APEC Economy-wide.
Convenor of the APEC Business Mobility Group, Ms Kimberlee Stamatis, with members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)
Information on the virtual ABTC, please visit the APEC Business Mobility Group Press Release and the Virtual ABTC page.
Information on application process and eligibility criteria, please visit the APEC Business Travel Card page.
Strengthening Comprehensive Connectivity and Infrastructure
Advanced Passenger Information Systems
By receiving passenger information in advance of travel, authorities can expedite the assessment and processing of legitimate travellers through ports of entry and shift their focus on those requiring additional scrutiny.
The BMG is helping economies implement advance passenger information systems through on capacity building projects or the sharing of best practices and methods.
Expanding Regulatory Cooperation and Advancing Regulatory Convergence
Legal Infrastructure Standards
The BMG conducts reviews of legal infrastructure standards. Its previous review concluded intersessionally in 2014. These standards aim to assist in further developing economies’ immigration infrastructures, which are critical for economies to achieve effective and efficient border management practices and procedures. In the 2017, the BMG agreed to review the infrastructure standards again.
Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth
Passport Checking Service (PCS)
The BMG contributes to APEC’s Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy by exploring future strategic direction of the Passport Checking Service (PCS). The intended result will be a real-time travel document validation service between economies.