Knowledge base articles

What is an APEC card?

What are the benefits of holding an APEC card?

The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) provides accredited business people with streamlined access to participating APEC economies.

Participating APEC economies

The APEC Business Travel Card is available to New Zealand business people engaged in trade and investment activities who:

  • are citizens of New Zealand and hold a current New Zealand passport
  • travel frequently (on short notice and for short term stay) to conduct trade and investment activities in participating APEC economies
  • have not been convicted of a criminal offence

Cardholders enjoy:

  • express immigration clearance through special APEC lanes on arrival and departure
  • no requirement to apply for visas before travel
  • multiple entries to participating economies

How do I apply?

To apply you will need to download the application form and send this with a passport-sized photo, any supporting documents, and the application fee.

Information on the fee and where to send your application is available on our website:

Fees, decision times and where to apply

APEC Business Travel Card application form 

What is the Virtual ABTC (VABTC)?

The Virtual APEC Business Travel Card (VABTC) is a new way of presenting the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) on a smart device ‘app’. There will be no change to the way of receiving and processing an application for ABTC.

When the application is approved, instead of receiving a physical card the applicant will receive a link to download the ABTC app. VABTC will be displayed on the app as the cardholder logs in. Similar to the physical ABTC, VABTC will need to be used in conjunction with the cardholder’s valid passport. 

Virtual ABTC FAQ for cardholders | Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation

The Virtual ABTC FAQ Quick Reference User Guide | Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation

When will the Virtual ABTC be available in New Zealand?

New Zealand will start issuing VABTC from 2 August 2021. From this date, physical cards will no longer be issued. This include replacement for lost cards or passport updates.

Once the initial launch is completed, we will provide opportunity for applicants who hold valid physical cards to transition into VABTC.

If you have not received any communication from Immigration New Zealand about transitioning into Virtual ABTC by 31 October 2021, please make enquiries with abtc@mbie.govt.nz. We will need you to provide your full name, date of birth, and a copy of existing ABTC card or the associated NZ passport.

Has the ABTC application process changed?

The process largely remains the same, with a few amendments due to the introduction of VABTC:

  • You must provide an email address on your application form in order to receive approval notification.
  • You are no longer required to select priority economies for pre-clearance and an interim card is no longer needed. Once your application is approved and released for other economies to provide pre-clearance, the pre-clearance that has been granted will appear on your VABTC in real time. This means you can make arrangements to travel to those economies. 
  • New Zealand will cease issuing physical ABTC from 2 August 2021.

Where can I find further information about the VABTC?

For more information, go to the Virtual ACTC page of the APEC website.

Virtual ABTC | Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

If you need further information please contact abtc@mbie.govt.nz

What are the eligibility criteria?

The APEC card is designed to meet a business person's frequent short term travel needs and not to replace visa applications for infrequent travel.

A bona fide business person is taken to mean a person who is engaged in the trade of goods, the provision of services or the conduct of investment activities. It specifically does not include:

    • the business person's dependent spouse and children
    • persons who wish to engage in paid employment or a working holiday
    • professional athletes, news correspondents, entertainers, musicians, artists or persons engaged in similar occupations.

What supporting documents do I need to include?

All applications need to provide supporting documents highlighting your need for frequent business related travel to APEC economies.

You must provide as much information as possible to allow us to process your application. Failure to provide sufficient evidence may result in the application being declined.

Some examples of supporting documents are:

  • supporting letter from your employer
  • invoice from overseas suppliers
  • contracts and agreements
  • invitations to overseas trade shows, fairs or exhibitions
  • any other third party documents which can identify you, your business and your need to travel for business related purposes.

How long is a card valid for?

APEC cards are valid for five years from the date the card is issued to you. However, if the passport you provided with your application expires before this date, the expiry date listed on your card will match the expiry date of your passport.

Your clearance will still be valid for five years. When you obtain a new passport, you will need to contact us with a scanned copy for us to update your details and issue you with an updated card.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

What happens if I get a new passport?

Update your passport details by submitting a copy of your new passport bio-data page to abtc@mbie.govt.nz

You will no longer be able to use your existing physical ABTC after you send the information. You will be notified when your new passport details have been updated on your VABTC, and you will need to login again using your new passport number to view this update.

Can I renew my APEC Business Travel Card?

All applications are treated as new applications. There is no facility for cardholders to renew their APEC Business Travel Card.

As such you will be required to submit a new application, photograph, and supporting documents. These will all be assessed against eligibility criteria.

What if I have a criminal conviction?

If you have a criminal conviction you will not be eligible for an APEC card.

If you have old convictions which are concealed under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004, you do not need to disclose these convictions when you apply for a card and it will not affect your eligibility.  Information regarding these convictions will not be disclosed to other participating economies.

Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 | New Zealand Legislation

Note that the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 does not apply when you fill out forms while travelling overseas. You will need to declare these convictions on your arrival card(s) overseas. If you do not meet that economy’s entry requirements, you may be refused entry.

You will need to check the entry requirements with that economy’s embassy or consulate before you travel. 

You can visit this website for their contact details:

Foreign Representatives to New Zealand | MFAT

How long does it take to receive Pre-Clearance from other economies?

Once your card application is approved by Immigration New Zealand, it is up to the other economies to decide whether you will be granted entry Pre-Clearance and there is no set timeframe. You can only travel to the economies that have granted Pre-Clearance.  

How do I check the status of my application?    

You can use your application number (a five digit number at the top right hand corner of the acknowledgment letter and in the fee receipt) to monitor and track your application status online:

Application - Check Status - Search | ABTC System

  • Next to "Economy of Application", select "New Zealand"
  • Enter your application number and click "Search"

Please note that you will not be able to track the status online until New Zealand has approved your application. You are then able to confirm the other member economies which have approved for travel for the selected APEC Business Travel Card.

This online status is updated daily.

What do I do if my acknowledgement letter or APEC card includes incorrect data?

You will need to email us and advise which information is incorrect.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz 

What do I do if my physical card is lost or stolen?

Contact the police to report your card as lost or stolen. 

Email us with the relevant information, detailing how and when your card was lost or stolen. We will then issue you with a replacement virtual card. You will need to provide your passport number when you contact us so we can easily identify you.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

What do I do if my address or email has changed?

Contact us by email and we will update your personal data.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

What do I do if my name has changed?

You will be required to submit a new APEC card application. We are unable to change your name in the system once the application has been approved. Your passport details on your APEC card and the passport you travel with must match.

Please note all applications are treated as new applications.  As such, you will be required to submit a new application, fee, photograph, and supporting documents which will be assessed against the applicable APEC eligibility criteria.   

I have an APEC card, but I'm planning to go to New Zealand for a holiday rather than business. Can I still use my APEC card?

No. APEC cards can only be used for business purposes, so it is not appropriate for use in this situation. If you are not from a visa waiver economy, you will need to apply for a visitor visa in order to travel to New Zealand for a holiday.

Visa waiver economies

Apply for a visitor visa

I hold an APEC card. Do I need to request an NZeTA?

When travelling to New Zealand for business purposes in line with the grant of the APEC card, you are deemed to hold a visa for New Zealand. This means you are exempt from the requirement to hold an NZeTA.

If travelling for other purposes (such as tourism), you may require an NZeTA or visitor visa.

NZeTA

Explore visitor visa options