Frequent travelers to the Asia Pacific region for business purposes may want to consider the benefits of an APEC Business Travel Card. Focused on improving travel experiences and speeds for frequent business travelers, the card provides several benefits that save time, aggravation, and money. But what exactly is it, who needs one, and how does one go about getting an APEC Business Travel Card?
What is APEC and Why Do Travelers Need the APEC Business Traveler Card?
APEC (or the U.S. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is a cooperative organization of countries working to promote trade between Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific islands, and North America. The APEC Business Travel Card is a program that is voluntary for member countries. It allows access to fast-track immigration lanes at international airports in participating countries. These countries include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Hong King China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Brunei Darussalam. It also gives travelers the option of using Global Entry kiosks instead of having to deal with regular customs lines and immigration, making a return to the U.S. faster and more streamlined.
Similar programs exist in each participating country, but the APEC Business Travel Card is unique to the U.S. To qualify for the U.S. version of the card, the applicant must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- An existing member in good standing
- Approved for membership for a CBP trusted traveler program, such as SENTRI, NEXUX, or Global Entry
- Either a verified business person or a U.S. government official who is currently active in APEC business
The process of being approved for the CBP trusted traveler program includes a background screening.
What’s the Process for Getting an APEC Business Travel Card?
Applicants must apply on the Trusted Traveler Program website. As this is a part of the application process, applicants may want to consider starting the process by applying for one of these programs, then adding the APEC card once they have been approved. Once an applicant has been conditionally approved for the APEC card, they will then need to visit a CBP Trusted Traveler Program enrollment center for signature collection. If the applicant is denied, there is an appeal process where they can submit additional documentation for consideration. If a reason was not provided, the applicant will need to file a CBP Freedom of Information request to the appropriate department.
The Card provides additional benefits for travelers; if the traveler needs a visa for the country they’re visiting, it provides an expedited process for visa interview scheduling. It also allows for short-term entries of at least 59 days for member countries. Travelers can go through an expedited border crossing process in participating countries, and Canadian and U.S. entries may provide for the use of air crew lanes to speed up the process.
With an appearance similar to a credit card, the card fits in most pockets or a passport carrier. It carries the standard magnetic strip and scanning capabilities, which makes it easy to read, and has several fields with personal information included. It’s a convenient way to speed up the overall process and reduce the amount of time spent standing in line, making it an excellent tool for regular business travelers.
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Updated February 22, 2019