What is an APEC business travel card: Benefits and requirements


APEC is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, covering a group of 21 economies in the Asia Pacific region, with the aim of improving and facilitating business relationships. APEC supports economic growth in the region through making it easier for goods, investments, and people to cross borders. That’s where the APEC business travel card comes in. If you want to know more about the APEC business travel card countries, the benefits and requirements of the APEC travel card scheme, read on.

If you’re considering getting a business travel card to make it easier to travel for work, you may be interested in other ways to make cross-border business run more smoothly. A great way to make it simple to work with suppliers, customers, and employees based overseas, is to get a Transferwise borderless account for business. This multi-currency account lets you hold your money in dozens of different currencies, and switch between them using the mid-market rate whenever you need to. You’ll just pay a low transparent fee, which can work out to be much cheaper than using a bank. More on that later.

What is an APEC business travel card?

An APEC business travel card, commonly referred to as an ABTC, is issued to eligible business travellers within the APEC region, to make it easier to travel in and out of other APEC card countries. The scheme is also open to government officials.

What are the requirements for getting an APEC business travel card?

The general APEC business travel card requirements include the following:

  • Card holders must be citizens of APEC economies
  • To apply for a card you must hold a valid passport, travel document or permanent identity card
  • Anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence will not be eligible to apply for an APEC business card
  • The ABTC is issued to people who can demonstrate they are bona fide business people, needing to travel for their work commitments, or in some cases, government officials.

Each APEC member economy can set their own exact rules for eligibility. If you’re in Singapore and would like to apply for an ABTC, you’ll need to prove you have a clean criminal record, and fall into one of the following categories:

  • You’re a business person representing an economically active company

  • You’re a member of a professional body - for example, if you’re an accountant you should be part of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants

  • You’re a government official representing an economic agency, government department or ministry

How much do you need to pay to get the APEC card?

The cost of processing your APEC business card will depend on where you apply for it. In Singapore, you’ll pay a $100 fee, which is non-refundable.

What are the benefits of having an APEC business travel card?

The ABTC exists to make it easier for business people to travel within the APEC economies. APEC business travel card benefits include pre-cleared visa free entrance to countries in the region, as well as access to fast track entry and exit lanes in certain airports.

The countries which allow visa free travel will be detailed on the back of your APEC card. The Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority advise that it will take at least 3 months to process an application for an ABTC, and full clearance by all of the APEC countries can take up to a year. It’s possible to prioritise up to 5 APEC economies, and apply for an interim card which will cover pre-clearance in these countries. You can then use this interim APEC business card while you’re waiting for the other economies to assess your application.

Can you use your APEC card to travel with family?

The short answer is no. Your APEC card is issued to cover business travel. APEC economies may require you to get a separate visa if you’re travelling there for tourism or other purposes. If you’re travelling with family, your APEC business card will not cover other family members or dependents.

What are the countries you can travel to with your APEC business travel card?

APEC includes 19 full member economies, and 2 transitional members.

Full members are:

  • Australia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Chile
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam.

Canada and the US are transitional APEC members, which means that they don’t take part in the visa preclearance scheme, but may offer APEC fast lanes for visitors at certain points of entry.

Making international business payments? Wise could help you save money

Applying for an ABTC is a smart way to make it easier to do business within the Asia-Pacific region. Another clever move for business owners and entrepreneurs, is to get a Wise borderless account for business, to make international payments and currency conversion simple, convenient and cheap.

The borderless account is designed for people who live, work and travel internationally, and need to manage their money across different currencies. If you work with customers, suppliers or employees in other countries, this could be the account for you. You can hold over 40 different currencies in your borderless account, send and receive cross border payments, and switch between currencies using the mid-market exchange rate whenever you need to. You’ll just pay a low, transparent fee, which can work out up to 5x cheaper than using your regular bank.

Borderless account holders can also activate their own bank details for major currencies like Australian and US dollars, British pounds and euros, so you can receive payments just like a local. No matter what currency you’re using, Wise offers straightforward and safe transactions, backed by bank level security and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Getting an APEC business travel card is a great way of making it easier to do cross border business within the Asia-Pacific economies. By cutting out the time and admin needed to get visas for business travel, you’re free to focus on growing your business. You can also save time and money, and make cheap and secure international payments by getting a Wise borderless account for your business. See if you can save money with Wise, today.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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