Guide To Applying For APEC Business Travel Card

As countries reopen their borders, travelling has also resumed. This also means the return of travelling bugbears, such as the long lines through immigration and the need for visa applications and electronic travel authorisations.

Thankfully, business travellers have one solution to these problems: the APEC Business Travel Card.

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What Is The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)?

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card is a scheme that facilitates business travel within the APEC member economies.

The card serves as the entry authority for other fully participating economies which have granted preclearance. It also enables cardholders to fast track immigration processing at each economy’s major international airports. The maximum validity is 5 years.

The fully participating member economies are 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 Viet Nam.

Canada and the United States are transitional member economies and do not participate in the preclearance aspect of the ABTC scheme. ABTC holders travelling to a transitional economy will still need to present visas or other entry documents to enter the economy.

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Singapore Citizens May Apply For The APEC Business Travel Card Through ICA

Applicants can only apply for the ABTC from their home economies. Singapore citizens may apply for the ABTC through Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

To be eligible for application, you will need to be a Singapore Citizen with no past criminal convictions and be:

  • A business person representing an economically active business entity, or
  • A member of a professional body (i.e., doctor, lawyer or accountant), or
  • A public officer representing a ministry, government department, economic agency or statutory board, travelling in official capacity.

The ABTC is tied to your passport details. Thus, it is advisable to apply for a new ABTC after you have collected your replacement passport if your passport is expiring or you have a pending passport application.

It takes at least 3 months to process an ABTC after the receipt of the application. The securing of preclearance from all ABTC-participating economies may take up to a year.

Applying for an ABTC will cost a non-refundable fee of $100.

Business Travel Must Be Supported By A Company Or Professional Body

If you are applying as a business traveller or under a professional body, you will need to submit a letter of authorisation or support from the organisation. You can take reference from ICA’s specimen letters of support.

Source: ICA

For applicants who are directors of their own companies self-signing the letter of support, you will also need to submit a scanned copy of your ACRA Business Profile.

For applications who are members of professional bodies who apply in their personal capacity, you will need to submit a letter of support with a proof of membership.

Fast Track Through Immigration At Participating Airports

All APEC Business Travel Card holders (including card holders from transitional economies and those travelling to transitional economies) can take advantage of fast track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at participating airports.

As these lanes are reserved for APEC holders, the lines are likely to be processed more quickly compared to normal immigration lanes. Additionally, APEC holders travelling to fully participating economies will also have undergone preclearance which will speed up the immigration process.

For the transitionary economies of Canada and the US or Canada, ABTC holders will have to go through the standard immigration clearance processes but may use ‘fast track’ immigration lanes (currently designated for airline crew) at major international airports.

Separate Visa Applications Are Not Required With Preclearance But Passport Is Still Needed

The ABTC doesn’t replace a passport. ABTC holders are required to present both passports and ABTC on arrival and departure in participating economies.

If you have been granted preclearance to a fully participating economy, you will not need to submit a separate application for visa or travel authorisation.

Each fully participating economy assesses the ABTC according to its internal requirements. ABTC applications approved by the home economy will be sent to all other fully participating members for preclearance consideration. ABTC holders can see the list of economies that they have been granted preclearance for on the reverse side of their ABTC.

Source: NAS

As transitional member economies do not participate in the preclearance aspect of ABTC, you will need to present any travel or identity documentation required, such as a passport and visa or a travel authorization when travelling to Canada and the US.

Source: APEC

This article was first published on 11 January 2023 and has been updated with the latest information.

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