Assessing travel and visa obligations in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is an economic forum comprised of several countries across several continents. The agreement affords nationals of APEC member states who hold a valid APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) the ability to travel visa-free for ordinary business purposes to participating APEC countries and benefit from a faster immigration clearance at designated ABTC lanes.

The APEC member states

APEC currently has 21 members, most with coastlines along the Pacific Ocean. The members include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

Assessing travel and visa obligations

APEC Business Travel Cards (ABTC) allow pre-cleared business travelers visa-free travel for the purpose of conducting ordinary business activities in member countries. The ABTC removes the need to apply for visas or entry permits for participating member countries (exclusive of Canada and the U.S.) and authorizes multiple entries into participating countries for the duration of the card’s validity.

ABTC holders also benefit from faster immigration processing on arrival via special fast-track entry and exit lanes at participating airports.

APEC member economies fully participating in the scheme include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Thailand and Vietnam.

Canada and the United States are transitional members of the scheme.

Business travelers with a valid ABTC are only eligible to participate in visa-free travel to APEC countries that are listed on the ABTC. If the business traveler is authorized to enter a country on an ABTC card, the card will explicitly state that country’s code. If the country code is not listed on the card, the traveler is not authorized to enter that particular destination with the ABTC.


How long can I stay in the APEC region?

Immigration regulations of each APEC country will determine the duration of time foreign nationals are allowed to remain in country.

Working under APEC

The member states of the APEC region remain sovereign and the specific rules regarding working in a specific country vary considerably. The ABTC only authorizes visa-free travel for ordinary business purposes, and regulations regarding work activities should be reviewed on an individual basis.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date informaton. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.