APEC Business Travel Card Scheme (ABTC)
Here we are going to tell you about the ABTC (APEC Business Travel Card) Scheme that offers which and efficient traveling facilities to the business executives within APEC region. As per this scheme, the cardholders are benefitted from facilitated and pre-cleared entry for a short term into the economies that are participating in the scheme.
The ABTC acts as a visa for multiple-journeys that allows the cardholders the facility of expedited immigration clearance and entry without visa through the designated ABTC lanes participating in (APEC) Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economies.
A total of 21 economies are currently participating in ABTC scheme of which 18 economies are listed as full participants, providing smooth traveling experiences to the ABTC holders. A list of these nations is as follows:
- Brunei Darussalam
- Chinese Taipei
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- New Zealand
Apart from the above mentioned nations, there are 3 more countries that operate as the transitional members under the ABTC scheme. These are:
- The Russian Federation
- The United States of America
The transitional nations permit the cardholders from participating economies to make use of fast-track immigration lanes which are mainly assigned to the aircrew at the chief international airports. These countries are also required to provide APEC Business Travel Card to their citizens.
The issuing of the cards is still in progress in Canada. Russia is giving final touch to all the arrangements before introducing the cards to its residents. In the mean time, US has passed the legislation for granting ABTC to its citizens but the US Border Protection and US customs are still under the process of beginning the issue of card.
Even after having the ABTC card, the travelers will be subjected to immigration clearance when traveling to transitional member countries. The cardholders who are traveling to Canada or US will have to present a valid visa as per the Canadian and/or US laws. If you are visiting the Russian Federation, you can rest assured of such formalities as visa is no longer a necessity for the ABTC cardholders.
Note:The procedures for entering United States for foreigners will not change if the APEC Business Travel Cards Act of 2011 is passed. The US immigration law still not recognizes ABTC as entry visa and hence the travelers from the APEC nations are required to carry the required entry visas.
BENEFITS FOR ABTC CARDHOLDERS
ABTC’s main aim of introducing this scheme was to provide comfort to the business people in moving from one place to another mostly the participating nations providing pre-declared entry to the member economies.
It was primarily planned to offer smooth entry to the APEC economies which are often visited by the business travelers. The cardholders enjoy several benefits as per the APEC Business Travel Cards scheme like flexibility and ease of exploring business opportunities in different countries, conducting trade, attending meetings and take part in several investment actions in APEC economies.
In all we can say that the ABTC Scheme offers following facilities to the cardholders:
- Short-term entries to the participating economies with a staying time of 60-90 days per visit.
- Fast-track entry and exit via special APEC lanes at major international airports.
- Facility to enter the participating nations without visa as ABTC card is considered as Visa is another facility. However, it is not acceptable in the transitional members.
- The ABTC card has a validity of only 3 years or many be up to the period for which the passport is valid whichever is small.
NOTE: ABTC cannot put back the passport which is an essential travel document. No matter you are a cardholder or not, you are required to have a legal passport in order to visit different economies.
In order to submit an application for the ABTC scheme following requirements are essential:
- The citizens of Singapore having a valid passport of Singapore.
- Being a member of the professional bodies like lawyers, artists and doctors
- Bonafide business owners that includes the ones who represent
- Singapore Citizens with a valid Singapore passport economically-active business entity
- Public officers like government departments, ministries, statutory boards, economic agencies etc. who are required to travel due to their office work
- People who have never been a part of any criminal offence and never been convicted.
- People who travel very often for investment and trade activities in APEG region.
- The individual must have a passport of a participating nation so as to become eligible for the ABTC card. However, there are some countries that also ask for added information and might have some additional criteria for eligibility.
- The foreigners and permanent residents of Singapore are required to apply from their own countries. For Instance, a Malaysian being a Singapore PR needs to apply from Malaysia card-issuing authority for ABTC card.
The ABTC applications in Singapore should be submitted to the (ICA) Immigration & Checkpoints Authority. Here is a list of the documents which might be required in the process.
- Mastercard debit/credit card or VISA (for online payments)
- The image should be in JPEG format with .jpg extension.
- The dimension should be 400 x 514 pixels.
- The total size of the file should not be exceeding 60KB
- The signature should be scanned
- Supporting document which is required for eligibility
- A valid passport of Singapore
- SingPass ID
The digital photo specifications are as follows: