How To Get Your APEC Business Travel Card (i.e. Asia VIP Card!)


shadstone   |   August 30, 2021

T’his article is originally found here: https://www.globalfromasia.com/how-to-get-apec-card/

Tired of waiting in the long customs lines with all the other suckers?

Ya, thought so!

If you’re a regular business person in Asia, this article will take a bit to read through but will save you hours and hours of time in border lines all across Asia – so pay attention!

For frequent travelers in Asia, we are now from the gods with a new card for VIP treatment at customs security. I thought it was APAC card (my logic was it is Asia Pacific – APAC) – but it is an APEC card which stands for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

A lot of my friends are either processing one and I recently went through the process. I started writing this guide as soon as I filed it, and have been updating it along the way.

So you can read along as I go through the process. Plus it’s still fresh in my mind.

Acronyms Defined

Governments seem to love using acronyms! Maybe it is the military side spilling over into civilian use? Or just easier to explain to people. Whatever the case, there are a lot in this guide!

Doing my online research, I could only find government websites with tons of acronyms. I thought before you read too far into this, let’s get some of these acronyms that you’ll come across on a regular basis.

  • Connector.
     APECAPEC – Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. We’ll go into details on what this is in the next section.
  • Connector.
     ABTCABTC – APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). The physical card you’ll receive to cross the borders with.
  • Connector.
     CBPCBP- This is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection department. For both humans as well as products coming in and out of USA land.
  • Connector.
     GOESGOES – Global Online Enrollment System. This is the online system for applying and managing your frequent traveler programs.
  • Connector.
     SENTRISENTRI – Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. for frequent travelers between USA, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Connector.
     NEXUSNEXUS – Couldn’t find anywhere on the web what it stands for. Maybe just a name, and not an acronym? The NEXUS program allows pre-screened travelers faster entry and exit between the United States and Canada. 1-866-NEXUS 26 (1-866-639-8726).
  • Connector.
     FASTFAST: Free and Secure Trade for Commercial Vehicles. This is for those truck drivers and cargo companies who have products coming in and out of Canada, US, and Mexican borders.
  •  GEGE – Global Entry. For international travelers to get in and out of border crossings faster.

If you want to dig into these various travel programs, you can find the official CBP site here covering all Travel Programs.

Today I will focus on APEC, as well as the Global Entry as it’s required for APEC card holders.

So What is APEC Exactly?

Now that we have some basic definitions of various travel programs, let’s dig into APEC.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

While it stands for Asia-Pacific – I see there are countries listed in South America and North America. Here is the full list of all 21 APEC members:

  1. Australia
  2. Brunei Darussalam
  3. Canada
  4. Chile
  5. Mainland China
  6. Hong Kong China
  7. Indonesia
  8. Japan
  9. Korea
  10. Malaysia
  11. Mexico
  12. New Zealand
  13. Papua New Guinea
  14. Peru
  15. Philippines
  16. Russia
  17. Singapore
  18. Chinese Taipei
  19. Thailand
  20. USA
  21. Vietnam

And What’s ABTC?

So the ABTC is what you need to card for. This is the card to give you the fast track – VIP at customs and border crossings! Like the golden ticket at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, well not that cool – but pretty close. You will get preferential treatment when processing at foreign borders in Asia.

Carry this ABTC card with you just like you would with your passport. Its best to keep it with your passport at all times.

The ABTC is one program in APEC, which aims to facilitate travel of business people in the Asia-Pacific region. How? By providing simpler short-term entry procedures.

When Did This ABTC Card Start?

I can’t find out when they made the card available. From research it seems they passed the bill in 2011. But there is definitely information about when it ends.

In the legislation it authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to issue U.S. APEC Business Travel Cards until Sept. 30, 2018. The legislation might extend it, but we don’t know. We can watch the law and see if it is extend after that date. Most likely they’ll see how this first phase goes.

Update May 2017: We have a blog reader who has this to say – seems it will no longer stop in September 2018!

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to make the APEC Business Travel Card for U.S. citizens permanent.

 

See here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/504?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22s504%22%5D%7D&r=1

Paul A. · May 26, 2017 at 1:49 pm

How Long Does an ABTC Last Once You Get It?

Three years after issue date. The card will have the expiration on it. Also if your passport is expiring in less than three years, then the APEC card will expire at the same date as the passport.

What Airports & Border Crossings in Those Countries Accept APTC Cards?

So you’re jumping up and down that you can get through some of these border lines faster? Before applying, you might want to check this list of which places support accepting the card. But keep in mind it has not updated since 2008. For example, it doesn’t list Shenzhen / Hong Kong borders, but they accept them now.

I would say if you are a jet setter, you should invest in this to make your life just a little bit less stressful Qualifying for U.S. ABTC As a US Citizen

This article focuses on US citizens for processing their ABTC card. Reading all the government websites, they said it is possible for non Americans to get it, but it doesn’t say how.

So if you’re reading this and not a US citizen, I’d suggest you search your local country government’s website. I’d love to hear how it goes – leave a comment about it if you can.

Keep in mind, US government websites, explain that the US APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) is for US Citizens. The process different from foreigners – but still works as global entry in US borders. So don’t think its keeping out non-Americans from the program.

So – to be eligible for the U.S. APEC Business Travel Card Program, you must meet three criteria:

· You must be a U.S. citizen

· Have a current membership in a CBP trusted traveler program such as SENTRI, NEXUS, or Global Entry. If you don’t, you’ll need to apply for that first (we’ll cover it below, don’t worry). This means they will check criminal record databases and do other background checks.

· Be a verified business person actively engaged in Asia Pacific related business or a U.S. government official.

What is a verified business person engaged in Asia Pacific business? As detailed in the FAQ section:

A “verified business person” engaged in APEC business means a person engaged in the trade of goods, the provision of services or the conduct of investment activities in the APEC region. Professional athletes, news correspondents, entertainers, musicians, artists or persons engaged in similar occupations are not considered to be verified business travelers engaged in business in the APEC region when they are traveling in such a capacity.FAQ section

So I believe I should qualify (as of writing this my application is still pending). They approved friends and associates of mine doing similar business. That is, living in Asia and doing business between countries. I am not sure if they look at where you are living as part of it (I’ll try to ask during my interview). I am sure that during their research they see you have a Hong Kong company and have been living in Asia for many years as strong qualifications.

First – Need The Global Entry Program

So now that you got the idea of this APEC card and you quality, next you need to prepare to apply online. Before we get there, you need to first have a GE account – a Global Entry program

The main role of the GE card is to enable Global Entry members to use NEXUS/SENTRI lanes. When you apply for this program, you can check a box and apply for your APEC card at the same time.

If you want to check for locations that accept it http://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/locations has a running list. Again not the most up to date, so check next time you cross your regular border check with the border patrol.

I will include applying for this Global Entry Program as part of the steps below.

Applying Online For The Global Entry & ABTC

Ok, let’s get online and start filling this puppy out! Use the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) and you can login via this GOES page.

If you already have an account and are in the Global Entry program, life is simple for you. Login and check a box that you want to add in the APEC program. This will add the APEC Business Traveler Card.

If you are not already a CBP trusted traveler then you must schedule a visit to any CBP trusted traveler enrollment center. You’ll have an interview and submit your electronic signature. To make it faster, you can create a GOES Online Account and apply online and then do the interview.

Note – Hong Kong Permanent Residents Apply Here

My friend Larry wanted me to add there is a way to get the APEC card from Hong Kong. His message:

Important to note it’s better for people (including Americans) permanently resident in Hong Kong to get the APEC card issued by Hong Kong Immigration because unlike the US one it gives you visa free access to a bunch of countries in addition to the VIP line privileges

Here are the eligibility requirements when doing it from HK:

More Information For APEC card with your HKID (Hong Kong ID card)

Apply for APEC card via Hong Kong via form id900.

Fee from HK: After digging, found in form ID912 that the fee for a new APEC card is 590 HKD (about $75 USD) – so cheaper than getting it from America.

A business person residing in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may apply for an ABTC if he/she:

 

holds a Hong Kong permanent identity card and a valid national passport;

has not previously been denied entry to any of the participating economies;

has never been convicted of a criminal offense;

must be a bona fide business person who needs to travel frequently on short term visits within the APEC region to fulfill business commitments.

A bona fide business person is taken to mean a person who is engaged in the trade of goods, the provision of services or the conduct of investment activities. It does not include entertainers, musicians, artists or persons engaged in similar occupations.Hong Kong Immigration Department for APEC travel card

Also Note – Its Not Free

Before we go into the next steps, also please note that you need to pay a fee. There are 2 fees if you have not yet applied for the Global Entry program before.

1) The application fee for Global Entry Program is $100 US dollars. You can also choose another Customs Border Patrol Trusted Travel Program if you’d like. To me, it seems the most common choice would be the Global Entry Program.

2) The application fee for the U.S. APEC Business Travel Card is $70.

The fees are non-refundable. So if this is your first time to do any of this (like me) budget $170 US dollars.

I was able to pay by credit card online. They also have US bank transfer available as well.

For more on what you need to apply, visit https://www.globalfromasia.com/how-to-get-apec-card/