APEC Cards readily available again for small business – hooray!

From the Trade Minister down, businesspeople will find an APEC card much easier to travel back and forth to China.
From the Trade Minister down, businesspeople will find an APEC card much easier to travel back and forth to China.

Business Travel to China Made Easier Again

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 in 2011 and Australian cardholders had to be a “senior executive level business person” in their company: the three highest management tiers of a large business enterprise, or the two highest tiers in medium-small enterprises.” In practice, this meant  Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director, Vice President, Regional Director, Division Head or an equivalent role. At the end of 2012 another change 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

On 19 March 2014, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced changes to the APEC Business Travel Card by no longer requiring certification by an approved body for Australian citizen applicants. The new arrangements for the APEC Business Travel Card will commence on 1 June 2014.

The new streamlined arrangements will pay particular attention to the needs of small and emerging Australian businesses and applicants must continue to demonstrate that they are engaged in trade and investment between APEC economies, however this will be done through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and no longer by external approved bodies.

An applicant should provide evidence that their business is lawfully registered in the home country economy and also provide evidence that the business has a history of   trading goods, services or conducting investment activities between APEC economies which would justify its employees being considered for card eligibility.

The approved bodies will process any applications on hand under the previous arrangements until 30 June 2014.

APEC Business Travel Card Processing Team Contact Details:

Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Telephone: 61 7 3136 7130

Fax: 61 7 3136 7473

Email: ABTC@immi.gov.au

Website: http://www.immi.gov.au/Business/Pages/apec-travel-card.aspx