More than a year ago (!), Canada announced their intention of joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) program. Recently, Canada implemented the ABTC card program, and now NEXUS members who have business travel with APEC member countries can get the ABTC card.
What does it do?
The ABTC is similar to the NEXUS program, but allows expedited immigration clearance in more countries, savings potential hours after you land. Countries with expedited clearance are: “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” (Source: CBSA)
The ABTC does not waive normal visa and passport requirements. However, if you travel to the above countries frequently, and do not already have expedited clearance, this can save you a considerable amount of time and be a highly valuable resource.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible, you must currently be a NEXUS member. I’ve already talked about how valuable NEXUS membership is, so you should be getting it anyways.
You have to have business travel to APEC member countries.
What’s the process?
First, you’ll apply for the APEC card online using the GOES system, the same system you use for applying to NEXUS. It carries a $75 fee. I was approved within 6 hours, and I suspect that everyone applies online will be approved.
The next step is to schedule an appointment at a NEXUS location (again, the same locations where you did your interview for NEXUS). I’ve heard that as a current NEXUS member, you can just pop in if they’re not busy without an appointment, however, I wouldn’t rely on that.
At the appointment, you have to demonstrate a substantial business interest in travelling to APEC member countries. I do not know the minimum requirements to meet the APEC business traveller requirements. My understanding is that the standard is basically to convince the agent of your business travels.
If you’re approved at the appointment, your ABTC card will be mailed to you shortly thereafter. If you are not approved, nothing happens to your NEXUS account, but the $75 application fee is non-refundable.
Your ABTC card will be valid for three years. However, if either your NEXUS card or your passport expires before that three year period, your ABTC card expires along with it. So make sure to apply for your APEC card three years before either your NEXUS or passport expire.
If you have business travels to APEC member countries, it makes a lot of sense to apply for the ABTC card to significantly speed up your travels.