It's now easier to get an APEC card to streamline your business travel around Asia, with the Federal Government loosening the qualifications needed to pocket an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) card.
The prized slip of plastic means travellers don't need to apply for an individual visas in 18 countries (and yes, that list includes China) and also lets you use fast-track arrival and departure lanes, often the same ones used by airline crew and diplomatic staff, at airports in those countries.
The card covers visits up to three moths and is valid for three years.
In mid-2010 the federal government drastically tightened the eligibility criteria for the APEC card, claiming concerns that the card was too easily earned – a move which SmartCompany reported had effectively stripped "around 10,000 Australian businesspeople".
Under the new rules, cardholders had to belong to the very top tiers of management of a company trading or investing $5 million with APEC nations.
However, as of November 1st 2012, the card is available to an much-expanded range of travellers, including "an owner / director of a registered business entity" and "any employee of the business entity, regardless of the level of their position ... nominated by a senior business person to conduct trade and / or investment in the APEC region on behalf of the business entity."
You'll also need to have made a minimum of four business trips to an APEC economy during the 12 months prior to the date of your application for the card.
And there's one more hurdle to jump: your business must be certified by an 'approved body' such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group as being engaged in international trade or investment in the APEC region.
For full details, click through to www.immi.gov.au/skilled/business/apec.
If Hong Kong is your most frequent port of call, don't forget that your frequent flyer card qualifies you for the fast-track 'Frequent Visitor e-Channel' at Hong Kong airport – our story has all the details, including which airline frequent flyer schemes and status levels are recognised.
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