It’s hard to believe it has been five years since I joined Global Entry. As I near renewal, I found an add-on that I couldn’t resist, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation card.
Global Entry Renewal
I’d happily log a complaint with Customs and Border Protection that the process for renewing Global Entry is really rather daft – but no one would listen.
Renewing is essentially the same as starting over from scratch and according to the processing paperwork still requires an in-person interview. Mine is due soon and I thought I’d get a head start on getting it done.
Why Would I Want to Add APEC?
Over the last few years, I have traveled to Asia often. A family favorite destination is Bangkok, and we also find ourselves in Hong Kong. Earlier this year we visited Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia in that order. Passing through customs quickly as I would with Global Entry at home helps weary travelers like ourselves.
The Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation allows expedited customs entry for business travelers frequently visiting member nations. The program requirements note that ABTC (APEC Business Travel Card) is only available to government employees traveling to member nations on business and verified business travelers.
Be careful when disclosing countries visited to select the right one, some nations colloquially call the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea, and the Republic of Korea, South Korea.
The Completion Process
The process is fairly simple. Applicants affirm that they have business in Asia and submit their application knowing that the associated governments will have access to their information.
A verified business person is described as follows:
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.
A “U.S. government official” means a U.S. government official performing U.S. government activities that support the work of APEC.
In essence, it’s little more than paying an additional $70 fee and ticking a box. For the government bodies that determine approval, however, each has its own process:
“Applicants make a single application to the economy for which they hold a passport (home economy), or have permanent residence in the case of Hong Kong, China. If this economy assesses the application as meeting the relevant criteria, the applicant’s details are provided to the other participating economies who conduct their own assessment of whether to grant pre-clearance. When all economies have made a pre-clearance decision, the applicant receives an ABTC that lists the economies to which they have permission to travel. Each economy is responsible for managing the processing of their own pre-clearance applications and no economy has any influence over the processing timeframes of another.”
A government may decline ABTC acceptance while others may allow an applicant through, it’s not an all-or-nothing in the way that other services of this sort may be. Applicants must be approved for the Trusted Traveler program of their home country in addition to APEC member nations.
I wish I had known about the option to add this APEC card to my application when I first applied for Global Entry. I am curious as to the timeframe in which approvals or denials are processed by each country, I am already approved independently of this by Hong Kong so I would be surprised if I wasn’t at minimum accepted to the program for Hong Kong.
What do you think? Have you added an APEC ABTC card to your Global Entry membership? How has your experience been?