APEC Cards available again – they’ve joined the digital age!

Business Travel to China Made Easier Again

APEC cards are back – but now they are virtual. On 1 March 2021, Australia transitioned to the Virtual APEC Business Traveller Card (ABTC), a digital version of the card accessible through a cardholder’s smart device. Physical cards will no longer be issued to Australian applicants and cardholders. Rules around the APEC Business Travel Card which many businesspeople found very helpful – especially in travelling to China have been relaxed. Holders of the card do not have to apply for a visa which is time consuming and requires copious documentation each time you want to go.

China joined the APEC card scheme in 2001 and  the card was readily available to people travelling periodically to APEC economies, including China and not a lot of evidence was required; the scheme was then tightened and at one stage you required certification by an approved body (like Australian Industry Group) of your China activities. As translators, we were called upon to provide evidence of China engagement from time to time.

Good news for China Travellers

The Chinese Government has announced that it will accept the virtual APEC Business Traveller Card (ABTC) from 1 May 2023. The Chinese Government has also announced that as an interim arrangement, Chinese embassies and consulates will provide visas free of charge to those virtual ABTC holders who:

  • have received pre-clearance from China and
  • do not have a physical ABTC

China continues to accept physical ABTCs from all participating APEC economies.

Virtual ABTC holders need to provide proof pre-clearance has been granted by China. If no such proof is available, the application will be verified by China. Applicants may contact relevant Chinese embassies and consulates for details, noting the specific requirements and procedures may vary at different diplomatic services.

To be eligible, you need to be engaged in trade or investment, of senior status and provide a range of evidence digitally to the Immigration Department.

For more information: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/business-travel-card/australian-citizens



Got a question? We’d love to hear from you


Level 4, 221 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000
GPO Box 2231, Melbourne 3001

P. 1300 792 446
F. 03 9670 0766


"*" indicates required fields