1. What is APEC business travel card (ATBC)?

According to the consular portal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the APEC card (or APEC business card, ABTC card) is a document issued by the competent authority of the country and territory participating in the APEC business card program grants its businessmen to facilitate travel 

    • carry out business, trade, investment and service cooperation activities;
    • attend conferences, seminars, and other economic purposes in the countries and territories of APEC participating in the Program.

ABTC cardholders, when entering or exiting the countries and territories listed in the card, do not need a visa of those countries and territories.

2. How long is the ABTC valid for?

According to the latest regulations on issuance of APEC cards, the APEC card is valid for 5 years from the date of issue (previously, the APEC card was valid for 3 years).

The APEC business card is not renewable upon expiration. That is, when the APEC card expires if there is still a need to travel within the APEC bloc and are still eligible to be issued a card, the businessman needs to go through the procedures to apply for a new APEC card.

3. Benefits of APEC Card (ABTC)

Entrepreneurs owning an APEC card will have the following benefits:

    • Being exempted from entry visas to the countries printed on the back of the APEC card, thus reducing the time required to apply for an entry visa as well as extending the visa if you want to stay longer than the allowed visa period.
    • There is no limit to the number of visa-free entries to those countries during the validity of the card.
    • Priority entry procedures to these countries access to separate gates for business people with ABTC cards (APEC),
    • Stay in APEC countries from 60 to 90 days,
    • Business people with APEC cards will easily apply for visas from developed countries that are not in APEC such as the UK, or countries that are in APEC but have not participated in the APEC business travel card program such as the US and Canada.

4. Which countries are exempt from visa for APEC cards?

The APEC card is also known as the 19-country APEC card because the holder of this card can be exempted from visa to 19 APEC countries, except the US and Canada. As follows:

However, which countries your APEC card can go to depends on the list of countries printed on the back of your card.

4. Subjects granted APEC card ​

According to  Decision No. 54/2015/QD-TTg   of the Prime Minister amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Regulation on issuance and management of APEC business travel cards issued together with Decision No. 45/2006 /QD-TTg e Regulations on the issue of APEC cards, the following subjects are considered for issuance of APEC business cards:

1. Vietnamese entrepreneurs are working in state-owned enterprises, including:

    • The Chairman of the Members’ Council, the President of the company, the General Director of the Corporation shall be appointed by the Prime Minister;
    • Members of the Members’ Council; General Director, Deputy General Director; Directors, deputy directors of enterprises, industrial parks, export processing zones and economic zones; Directors, deputy directors of banks or bank branches;
    • Chief accountant, Head, Deputy Head of Departments of enterprises, industrial parks, export processing zones, economic zones, banks; Head of a branch of an enterprise or a bank branch.

2. Vietnamese entrepreneurs are working at enterprises legally established in accordance with Vietnamese law

    • The owner of a private enterprise, the chairman of the Members’ Council, a member of the Members’ Council, the chairman of the Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors, the general director or director of the company;
    • Chairman of the Board of Directors, members of the Board of Directors, Director or General Director of the cooperative or union of cooperatives;
    • Chief Accountant, Head of Department in enterprises; Heads of branches of enterprises and other equivalent titles.

3. Cadres, civil servants, and public employees are responsible for participating in APEC activities

    • Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Heads of ministerial-level agencies, Governmental agencies, Presidents and Vice Presidents of People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities have the duty to attend meetings and conferences. and activities on cooperation and economic development of APEC;
    • Cadres, civil servants, and public employees have the duty to attend meetings, conferences, seminars and other activities of APEC;
    • Chief representative, deputy representative of Vietnam’s trade representative offices in APEC member countries and territories.

5. Conditions for granting APEC card

Also according to Decision No. 54/2015/QD-TTg, businessmen belonging to the target group to be considered for an APEC card must fully meet the following conditions to be granted an APEC card before they can apply for an APEC card. :

    • Entrepreneurs applying for APEC cards must be at least 18 years old; not have restricted civil act capacity or have not lost civil act capacity.
    • Passport of the businessman applying for an APEC card is valid for at least 12 months.
    • Entrepreneurs working at enterprises with business, trade, investment, and service cooperation activities with partners in member economies participating in ABTC cards are represented through business contracts, economic, commercial, investment projects, and specific service contracts.
    • Entrepreneurs working in enterprises are represented by labor contracts, decisions on the appointment of positions, and full participation in social insurance contributions at the enterprises they are working for.
    • Not falling into the cases that have not yet been allowed to leave the country specified in Article 10 of the Regulation promulgated together with the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 45/2006/QD-TTg dated February 28, 2006 on the issuance and management of travel cards. from APEC businessmen.
    • Entrepreneurs working at businesses that have been operating for 06 (six) months or more.
    • Entrepreneurs are working at enterprises that well comply with the laws on trade, tax, customs, labor, and social insurance.

6. Procedures for applying for an APEC card

The process of making an APEC card will have to go through two stages, including:

    • Apply for written permission to use the ABTC card from the competent authority
    • Apply for an APEC card.

6.1 Guidance on procedures for applying for a written authorization to use the APEC card from the competent authority

In this step, businesses will need to perform 2 steps as follows:

Step 1. Prepare documents

Dossier to apply for an official letter of permission to use the APEC card includes:

    1. The written request of the enterprise, signed and stamped by the legal representative of the enterprise (according to the form);
    2. Joint venture contract, business cooperation contract, service provision contract or other import-export documents (L/C, bill of lading, customs declaration, payment invoice) within 01 year up to the time of applying for ABTC cards with partners of APEC member economies participating in the ABTC card program (attach the originals of the above documents for comparison). If the documents are in a foreign language, the Vietnamese translation must be attached;
    3. Certificate of business registration/investment certificate (the latest certification);
    4. Passport Original and 3 copies (latest certified) on all sides with contents.
    5. A copy of the decision on the appointment of a position with more than 1 year of holding the position, Minutes of the meeting on appointment of a position with more than 1 year of holding the position;
    6. Certificate of social insurance (according to the form);
    7. Copy of Labor Contract (Indefinite term labor contract for more than 1 year in charge of the position);

For officials and employees, the application file for permission to use the APEC card will include:

    1. A written request for permission to use the ABTC card from a ministry, department, department or branch.
    2. Certified copy of the decision of the competent authority to send to participate in APEC activities.
    3. Certified copy of Personal Passport for permission to use ABTC card.

Step 2. Submit application

After preparing the dossier, the enterprise will submit the application to one of the following authorities to apply for permission to use the APEC card:

    1. Department of Planning and Investment or Department of Foreign Affairs (for other businesses not in the cases below).
    2. Management Board of Export Processing Zones and Industry (for entrepreneurs of enterprises operating in industrial parks – export processing zones).
    3. Hi-Tech Park Management Board (for entrepreneurs of enterprises operating in the Hi-Tech Park).
    4. Urban Area Management Board (for entrepreneurs of businesses operating in the Special Urban Area).

After obtaining the written permission to use the ABTC card, the enterprise will continue to carry out process 2 to obtain the APEC card.

6.2. Procedure to apply for official APEC card

In this process, the entrepreneur will need to take 3 steps.

Step 1. Prepare documents to apply for an official APEC card, including:

    1. 01 application for issuance and re-issuance of ABTCs (Form X05), certified and enclosed with a photo of the head of the enterprise or the agency directly managing the entrepreneur.
    2. 02 photos of size 3cm x 4cm, recently taken, white background, bare head, face looking straight ahead, without colored glasses (01 photo glued to the declaration, 01 photo to leave).
    3. Document permitting the use of ABTC issued by competent authorities:
      – A document from the Prime Minister (if a businessman is appointed to a position or directly managed by the Prime Minister), or
      – A document from the head of a ministerial-level agency (if he is an entrepreneur appointed to a position by the head of a ministerial-level agency or is an entrepreneur working at an enterprise established or directly managed by a ministerial-level agency). ), or
      – A document from the Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee if he is an entrepreneur appointed to a position by the President of the Provincial People’s Committee or is an entrepreneur working at an enterprise established by the decision of the Provincial People’s Committee. or directly managed.

Step 2. Apply for an APEC card at the Immigration Department, Ministry of Public Security

In this step, the businessman will bring the dossier to the receiving and returning department at the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security to submit the dossier. The specific addresses of the Immigration Department in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang are as follows:

    • Hanoi: 44-46 Tran Phu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
    • Ho Chi Minh City: 333-335-337 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1, City. Ho Chi Minh
    • Da Nang: No. 7 Tran Quy Cap, Da Nang City

Note: * When submitting the application for ABTC card, the businessman must present a valid passport. In case the agency or enterprise appoints another officer or employee to submit the application file and receive the card on behalf of the businessman, such officer or employee must present a letter of introduction from the agency or enterprise, his/her identity card or his/her citizen identification card and the ABTC card’s applicant’s passport.

At that time, the staff receiving the application will check the legality and content of the file:

    • If the application is complete and valid, the receiving officer will write a receipt to give it to the submitter and request the payment of the fee. The toll collector will write a receipt and hand over the receipt and the receipt to the applicant.
    • If the application is missing or invalid, the applicant will be given additional instructions.
      Time to receive applications:

From Monday to Saturday every week (holiday).

Step 3: Receive ABTC at the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security:

On the appointment day, the businessman goes to the Immigration Department to receive the APEC card. Upon arrival, the businessman needs to present the receipt and the collection receipt for comparison. The officer returning the results will then check and ask the business to sign for it, then return the APEC card to the recipient.

Time to return results: From Monday to Saturday every week (holiday).

Above is the entire process of applying for an APEC card for business people in Vietnam. This entire process will take approximately 31 working days (not including preparation time).

7. Note when using APEC card ​

    • When using the APEC card, business people should enter the country for the right business purposes as prescribed. Thus, entrepreneurs need to have working addresses of partner agencies and business contracts.
    • On the other hand, when asked about the purpose of entry, business people need to answer that they are entering for business purposes.
    • Business people should stay within the allowed period of stay under the APEC card. If you want to stay longer, you should inquire about an extension of your temporary stay. If you overstay and do not renew, your APEC card may be confiscated and deported from that country.

8. Responsibilities of businesses whose business people are granted APEC cards

After an entrepreneur is granted an APEC card, an enterprise must always remember to fulfill the following responsibilities on time:

    • Annually (by December 31 at the latest) must report on the use of ABTCs by business people of their own enterprises, including the contents promulgated together with the Regulation on the issue and management of APEC cards. Enterprises must be solely responsible for the accuracy of the information declared in the report and commit to strictly abide by the laws and regulations of APEC member countries and territories applicable to the carrier ABTC card. If the enterprise does not report or does not report on time, it is considered as a violation of the regulations and the businessmen in the enterprise will be submitted by the competent authorities where the enterprise submits the application for permission to use the ABTC card. The People’s Committee of the city shall issue a decision and notify the Immigration Department of the ABTC card that is no longer valid.
    • For businessmen of enterprises who have changed jobs, stopped holding positions or have quit their jobs, the enterprises must retain the APEC card and immediately report to the competent authorities where the enterprises submit their application documents. permit the use of ABTC cards to report to the City People’s Committee for a decision that the card is no longer valid, contact and return the issued card to the businessman to the Immigration Department – Ministry of Public Security to manage .
      In case the enterprise is found to introduce the wrong person the enterprise or the person of the enterprise but not in accordance with the criteria and conditions for considering the use of ABTCs, the legal representative of the enterprise and the Businessmen who are asked to allow the use of their cards will be submitted to the City People’s Committee for decision and notified by the competent authorities where the business is located. Immigration management about the ABTC card is no longer valid for use and subject to other legal sanctions.

Owning an APEC card is indeed very convenient for international businessmen. If this time is not suitable for you to apply for an ABTC, or you are waiting for an ABTC, you can contact HT for business visa service.

To save time learning about the law, filling the form, preparing the dossier, you can contact HT for Making ABTC service.

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