Knowledge base articles

APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) and Virtual ABTC

Benefits of holding an APEC Business Travel Card

The APEC Business Travel Card is recognised by participating APEC economies.

Participating APEC economies

Alert

We have been advised Russia will not accept the virtual APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). Travellers to Russia must obtain a suitable visa before they travel.

Eligibility

New Zealand cardholders must:

  • be 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 have:

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

Supporting documents

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

You must provide as much information as possible to help process your application. A lack of sufficient evidence may result in your application being declined.

Supporting documents may include:

  • 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 identifying you, your business and your need to travel for business related purposes.

How to apply

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 PDF 568KB

Virtual ABTC application changes

The introduction of VABTC has made changes to the application process.

  • You must provide an email address on your application form to receive approval notification.
  • You no longer need 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 granted will appear on your Virtual ABTC. This means you can travel to those economies.

Getting your ABTC

If your application is approved you will receive a link to download the ABTC app as a virtual card.

Virtual ABTC will be displayed on the app as you log in. Similar to the physical ABTC, the Virtual ABTC must be used with your valid passport.

Virtual ABTC FAQ for cardholders | Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation

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

New Zealand cardholders transfer to the Virtual ABTC

New Zealand started issuing the Virtual ABTC in August 2021. Physical cards are no longer issued. This includes replacement for lost cards or passport updates.

If you hold a physical ABTC and have not heard from Immigration New Zealand about transfering to the Virtual ABTC enquire at abtc@mbie.govt.nz. Provide your full name, date of birth, and a copy of your ABTC card or the associated NZ passport.

More information

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

Virtual ABTC | Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

For more help contact:

abtc@mbie.govt.nz

Using the ABTC and Virtual ABTC

The ABTC and Virtual ABTC meets a business person's frequent short term travel needs and does not replace visa applications for infrequent travel.

A genuine business person 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
  • people who wish to engage in paid employment or a working holiday
  • professional athletes, news correspondents, entertainers, musicians, artists or people in similar occupations.

Card lifespan

APEC cards are valid for 5 years from the date the card is issued to you. The expiry date on your card will match the expiry date of your passport.

Your clearance will still be valid for 5 years. When you obtain a new passport, you must contact us with a scanned copy for us to update your details and issue you with an updated card.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

New passport

If you 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 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.

Card renewal

All applications are treated as new applications. Cardholders cannot renew their APEC Business Travel Card.

You must submit a new application, photograph, and supporting documents to be assessed against eligibility criteria.

Criminal convictions

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

Convictions concealed under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 do not need to be disclosed when you apply for a card and will not affect your eligibility. 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

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.

Checking the status of your 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

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

This online status is updated daily.

Incorrect data

If your acknowledgement letter or APEC card includes incorrect data you must email us and tell us which information is incorrect.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

Lost or stolen cards

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 issue you with a replacement virtual card. You will need to provide your passport number so we can easily identify you.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

Address or email change

Email us to update your personal data.

Email: abtc@mbie.govt.nz

Name change

You must submit a new APEC card application. We cannot 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.

Holiday or business

APEC cards can only be used for business purposes and cannot be used as a holiday, private, recreational or sporting visa purpose.

If you are not from a visa waiver country or terrirtory, you will need to apply for a visitor visa in order to travel to New Zealand for a holiday.

Visa-waiver countries and territories

Apply for a visitor visa

NZeTA exemption

When you travel to New Zealand for business purposes with an APEC card, you are considered to hold a visa for New Zealand. You are exempt from holding an NZeTA.

Travelling for other purposes (such as tourism), requires an NZeTA or visitor visa.

NZeTA

Explore visitor visa options