Over the past five years AmCham Singapore has pushed the U.S. government to allow American citizens access to the APEC Business Travel Card. The card gives frequent business travelers pre-cleared, facilitated short-term entry to participating APEC member economies, saving them valuable time at airports around Asia-Pacific. For several years, the card has been available to citizens of every APEC economy except the United States and Canada. We are pleased to announce that the U.S. government started issuing APEC Business Travel Cards to qualified U.S. travelers on June 12, 2014.
On November 16, 2016 AmCham Singapore strongly endorsed U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono’s letter to President Obama, co-signed by Senators Cory Gardner, Amy Klobuchar and Gary C. Peters, requesting that the United States extend the validity of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) from three to five years on the occasion of the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting to be held in Lima, Peru from November 19-20, 2016.
The ABTC has greatly improved procedures so that hundreds of members of AmCham Singapore can travel efficiently throughout the region to conduct trade and investment activities that are important to creating jobs in the United States.
“Clearing immigration at airports across the region involves a lot of time and even greater uncertainty about how long it will take on any given trip. The APEC Business Travel Card has removed this uncertainty, allowing business travelers to plan their time more efficiently and, ultimately, be more productive,” said Steven R. Okun, AmCham Governor. “The card is a game changer that allows U.S. citizens to compete more evenly with their foreign counterparts. A five-year validity will increase the card’s impact.”
Read the letter here.
On November 4, 2011 the U.S. Congress passed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards (ABTC) Act of 2011 and President Obama signed it into law shortly thereafter. AmCham Singapore applauded its passage and urged the government to begin issuing APEC Business Travel Cards to U.S. citizens as soon as possible. Since then, on our own, through APCAC, and with the support of U.S. Embassy Singapore, we have pressed the issue with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of State, and the White House. On June 12, 2014, U.S. citizens became eligible to apply for the ABTC.
How Can I Get an APEC Business Travel Card?
- You must be a U.S. citizen.
- You must login to the GOES system (https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes/index.jsp).
- You must self-certify in the system that:
- You are an existing member in good standing of a CBP trusted traveler program (such as Global Entry) or that you have submitted an application to a CBP trusted travel program (this may be done concurrently);
- You are a bona fide U.S. business person engaged in business in the APEC region; and
- You are not a professional athlete, entertainer, musician, artist or person engaged in a similar occupation.
After that, the card will be mailed to any U.S. or international address.
Signature Collection Event in Singapore
While all of the enrollment centers listed are currently in the United States, AmCham Singapore worked with the U.S. Embassy here to establish a program that allowed citizens to provide their signature in Singapore without having to fly back to the United States.
On Friday, June 20, 2014 AmCham hosted a one day signature collection event that allowed over 100 citizens to provide their signature at the AmCham Office.
Frequently Asked Questions for the One Day Signature Collection Event
- How can I obtain the APEC Business Travel Card?
- If you are an existing member of a Trusted Traveler Program, in order to apply for an APEC Business Travel Card, you must login to the GOES system and follow the steps to apply for the card. You will pay a non-refundable fee of US$70. At this point, you will need to provide an electronic signature at an enrollment center or at a signature collection event.
- After you provide your signature either at a signature collection event at AmCham or at a Global Entry enrollment center, CBP will mail your card to the mailing address that you provided in your GOES account.
- Will CBP mail APEC Business Travel Cards to foreign addresses?
- Will there be another signature collection day?
- The U.S. Embassy aims to collect as many signatures as possible on June 20, but is open to having another signature collection day in the future if there is significant demand.
- Can I use the APEC card for personal travel?
- No, you must be either a verified business person, or a U.S. government official, who is actively engaged in APEC business. A “verified business person” engaged in APEC business means a person engaged in the trade of goods, the provision of services or the conduct of investment activities in the APEC region. Professional athletes, news correspondents, entertainers, musicians, artists or persons engaged in similar occupations are not considered to be verified business travelers engaged in business in the APEC region when they are traveling in such a capacity.
We wish to thank all of our members who have written to and spoken with their representatives to help transform the APEC Business Travel Card legislation into a reality for U.S. citizens. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore has been a tremendous partner in terms of its flexibility in implementing Global Entry and the APEC Business Travel Card here and in encouraging lawmakers and government officials in Washington to get the cards in the hands of travelers. In particular, former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman and current U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar have been consistently supportive and helpful throughout this process.