Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Card: A New Trusted Traveler Program

by | Published Jul 27, 2022 | Edited Jul 27, 2022


We’ve written previously about the NEXUS card, a trusted traveler program for frequent flyers which you can access for free using credit card benefits. If you are currently a NEXUS member, you know that this card is a godsend for the awful experience that is airports, allowing you to skip to the front of security lines and access expedited dedicated NEXUS lines when passing through customs at both US and Canada borders.

When you join NEXUS, you also benefit from another program called Global Entry. Global Entry is like a network of trusted traveler programs and confers additional benefits for members. 

I’ve just learned that Global Entry members will now receive priority access to another trusted traveler program called APEC: the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation logo
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) – a Trusted Traveler Program that issues the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)

Let’s learn more about the APEC program and the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC).

What is the APEC Business Travel Card? 

This APEC program is similar to NEXUS, as it is a voluntary program offering priority expedited entry through country border security and customs at major international airports. APEC however covers Asia Pacific countries. As of 2022, participating APEC member economies include:

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Chile
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan 
  • Indonesia 
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Malaysia 
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

APEC program members also benefit from Trusted Traveler kiosks when returning to their country.

APEC Business Travel Card is marketed primarily for business travelers, but anyone who travels frequently should be eligible, whether it’s exclusively for business purposes or not. 

Who is Eligible for the APEC Business Travel Card?

Citizens of APEC participating economies are eligible to apply for the APEC business travel card. Additionally, Canada and the United States are transitional members of APEC, meaning Canadian and US citizens can benefit from APEC expedited travel privileges to other full member countries. 

To be eligible for the APEC Business Travel card, travelers must be considered low risk, meaning none of the following applies to them:

  • Convicted for a criminal offense in the United States or any other country
  • Received a waiver of inadmissibility to the U.S. from a U.S. government agency
  • Found in violation of customs laws
  • Found in violation of immigration laws

For Canadians, it is stated that you must be a NEXUS member before applying for the APEC business travel card. Implicitly, you must also have a valid passport to fulfill the program eligibility criteria.

How Do I Get the APEC Business Travel Card? 

Applicants will need to ensure they meet the requirements listed above before applying for the APEC Business Travel Card. You can then complete the pre-qualification application online here.

Prior to submitting your pre-qualification application, you will need to pay the refundable $99 USD fee. Once you have paid, it will take a few days for your application to be reviewed and conditionally approved for the APEC card.

Once it has been conditionally approved, you will be directed to the U.S. Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) System. You may then be asked to visit an Enrolment Center to finalize your enrollment and provide a digitized signature. You will then receive your card by mail.

Overall the application process seems quite similar to the process for NEXUS. 

What is the Cost of the APEC Business Travel Card?

The application process for the APEC Business Travel card includes a $99 USD processing fee, which is refundable for up to 30 days. This fee will be taken when you submit your initial application and can be paid via credit card (Mastercard or Visa only).

APEC 5-year card membership valid for 5 years with application processing fee of $99.

Is It Worth It to Get the APEC Business Travel Card?

Whether it is worth it to get the APEC Business Travel Card will depend on your circumstance. You should consider your typical travel patterns and future travel plans. Do you frequently travel to Asian Pacific countries, multiple times per year for business or pleasure? 

With NEXUS, the application is only $50 USD (or free with credit card credits), however, the APEC is a slightly steeper $99 USD. Ultimately you must decide if the cost is worth the benefits you will derive over the next 5 years of travel. 

After seeing how much time the NEXUS card saves me at North American borders I would go for the APEC card if I foresaw myself traveling to Asian Pacific countries at least once or twice a year. 

One other thing to consider though – as travel hackers we often get the privilege of flying business class for long-haul flights. For many carriers, business class travelers will get priority security lines and check-in counters, thus undermining the benefits of the APEC card.  

Conclusion

For Canadian NEXUS members, as well as many other countries, APEC membership can make entering Asia Pacific countries fast and convenient. Nobody enjoys the hurdles that come with navigating airports while traveling, so for any frequent travelers to APEC countries, the APEC card is something to consider. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the benefit of holding an APEC Business Travel Card?

    The APEC Business Travel Card gives frequent business travelers the following benefits: 
    Airport Fast-Track: fast-track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at participating international airports of foreign APEC member economies, as well as access to fast-track immigration lanes at airports of participating APEC economies.
    – Multiple Entries: multiple, short-term entries to precleared APEC economies without having to make a separate visa application to fully participating members 
    – Visa-Free Travel: ABTC holders do not need to apply for visas before visiting any of the full participatory APEC economies.

  2. What is the difference between fully participating members and transitional members of APEC?

    Fully participating members are eligible for pre-clearance, while transitional members are not. Pre-clearance means you do not need to make a separate application for a visa or entry permit when traveling to a foreign APEC member economy. As the United States and Canada are the two current transitional members, APEC members traveling to these two countries must present any required visas, travel or identity documentation, or other entry requirements.

  3. What countries does the APEC card cover?

    Canada and the United States are transitional member economies of APEC. The full APEC participating economies include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam, and Russia.

  4. Can Canadians apply for the APEC Business Travel Card?

    Yes, Canadian citizens who hold NEXUS are eligible to apply for the APEC Business Travel Card.

  5. How long is the APEC Business Travel Card valid for?

    APEC membership is valid for 5 years. However, if the cardholder’s passport or NEXUS card expires, the APEC membership will also expire. Members should check the expiry dates on all of their documents and ensure to renew before expiry. In addition, the APEC card membership will no longer be valid if the member’s NEXUS card is revoked.

  6. Do citizens of full participatory APEC economies need to present a passport to enter any other participating economies?

    Yes, you will always need to present your passport at destination airports alongside your APEC Business Travel Card. The APEC card does not replace the need for a passport for international travel to any APEC region. 

  7. Where can I ask questions about the APEC Business Travel Card?

    If you have further questions about the APEC card, you can contact APEC directly through their contact form. Alternatively, you can contact the CBSA for inquiries regarding the Canadian ABTC pilot. 

Reed Sutton

Reed Sutton

Founder at Frugal Flyer
Reed is addicted to the science (and art) of earning and redeeming travel points, and frequently pairs his trips with his other hobby: photography. Through Frugal Flyer, Reed aims to distill some of the complex and esoteric points strategies into digestible information. Furthermore, he hopes to use his technical expertise to develop invaluable applications and tools for the travel community.

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