Implementation of the Canadian Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card Pilot

Customs Notice 14-012

Ottawa, June 16, 2014

1. This notice is to inform you that the Canadian pilot of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) begins on June 16, 2014.

2. Qualified Canadian business travellers will now be able to receive expedited border clearance on arrival in Canada using the trusted traveller programs (TTP) kiosks at our eight major international airports and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, and facilitated border processing on arrival in participating APEC economies through access to special APEC lanes at major airports.

3. The processing fee for a three-year membership in the Canadian ABTC pilot will be $75.

Canadian ABTC Pilot

4. Canadian ABTC holders entering Canada by commercial air carrier will be able to fulfill their presentation and reporting obligations by using TTP kiosks equipped with iris biometric recognition at our eight major international airports and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

5. Canadian ABTC holders will also receive facilitated border processing through access to special APEC lanes when seeking entry to participating APEC economies by air. Canadian ABTC holders will still need to obtain separately and present any required entry documents (e.g. passport, visa/permits).

6. The benefits that Canadian ABTC holders receive abroad are reciprocal to those Canada provides to ABTC members from other APEC economies. Foreign ABTC holders have access to special APEC lanes at our eight major international airports, but must still obtain separately and present any required entry documents (e.g. passport, visa) when seeking entry to Canada.

7. ABTC members are not permitted to use the card for entry to an APEC economy for non-business travel (e.g. leisure travel or study).

ABTC Program

8. The full ABTC program is designed to provide frequent business travellers with pre-clearance (including visa or entry permit) for participating APEC economies and expedited border clearance through special APEC lanes at major airports. The ABTC is intended to provide fast-track immigration and customs processing and eliminate the need to individually apply for visas or entry permits for each economy, and allows multiple entries into participating economies.

9. There are, however, two levels of participation for APEC economies in the ABTC scheme: transitional and full membership. Transitional membership is granted to APEC economies that meet a majority of the core operating framework principles but are not currently able to meet all the principles (e.g. lifting visa requirements for all participating economies).

10. Canada is a transitional member as it does not offer visa pre-clearance under the ABTC scheme. Canada facilitates border processing for foreign ABTC holders by allowing them access to special APEC lanes on arrival at our major international airports. ABTC holders must still obtain separately and present all required documentation, such as a passport and Canadian Temporary Resident Visa (or other permit) when coming to Canada. The Canadian ABTC pilot will not change reporting requirements for foreign ABTC holders travelling to Canada.

Eligibility Requirements

11. To be eligible for membership in the Canadian ABTC pilot, an applicant must:

  • (a) Be a business person who is engaged in the trade of goods, the provision of services, or the conduct of investment activities;
    • This excludes the following:
      • (i) Dependent spouse or children of the business person;
      • (ii) Persons who are seeking to engage in paid employment or a working holiday; and/or
      • (iii) Professional athletes, news correspondents, entertainers, musicians, artists or persons engaged in similar occupations.
    • This includes the following:
      • (i) Senior government officials; and/or
      • (ii) Government officials actively engaged in APEC business.
  • (b) Travel more than once in a twelve-month period to the APEC region to fulfill business commitments;
  • (c) Be a Canadian citizen;
  • (d) Hold a valid Canadian passport;
  • (e) Maintain a valid NEXUS program membership; and
  • (f) Provide his/her iris biometric to use self-serve kiosks when entering Canada by air.

12. Under the ABTC Operating Framework endorsed by all participating APEC economies, the ABTC is to be issued only to persons who are citizens of an APEC economy (or, in the case of Hong Kong, China, its permanent residents who hold Hong Kong permanent identity cards). Therefore, under the Framework Canada cannot issue an ABTC to a person who is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents of Canada who are citizens of an APEC economy and wish to apply for ABTC membership must apply through the economy in which they hold citizenship.

Application and Enrolment Process

13. To process applications to the Canadian ABTC pilot, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will leverage existing systems and processes. Applications for membership in the Canadian ABTC pilot will only be initially accepted online through the same mechanism used for NEXUS applications, the Global Online Enrolment System (GOES). GOES is administered by the United States Customs and Border Protection on behalf of both Canada and the United States. Members who applied online for NEXUS will already have a GOES account, and members who applied for NEXUS using a paper application can register for a GOES account.

14. NEXUS members wishing to obtain the expanded benefits associated with membership in the Canadian ABTC pilot should log into their GOES account, follow the prompts to submit a Canadian ABTC pilot application and pay the required fee of $75.

15. Once the application has been processed, successful applicants will receive an invitation to visit a NEXUS Enrolment Centre. Applications will be finalized at the Enrolment Centre once a border services officer has confirmed the applicant’s identity and eligibility, and captured the applicant’s digital signature and iris biometric. Once approved, the card for ABTC membership will be mailed.

16. Membership in the Canadian ABTC pilot is valid for three years, provided the member maintains a valid NEXUS program membership and a valid Canadian passport, and continues to meet the program eligibility criteria. Members are encouraged to apply for renewal of those documents in advance of their expiry to ensure the documents do not lapse as this would result in the cancellation of their Canadian ABTC membership. It is the responsibility of members to advise the CBSA of updates to their passport information and to ensure the new information is entered in the GOES Web site.

Additional Information

17. More information on the Canadian domestic ABTC pilot, including detailed information on eligibility requirements, can be found on the CBSA Web site.

18. The Customs Act and the Presentation of Persons (2003) Regulations provide the legislative and regulatory framework for the administration of the Canadian ABTC pilot.

19. Additional information is available on the ABTC Web site.

20. Inquiries about the Canadian ABTC pilot should be directed to the CBSA by e-mail at: TrustedTPs-PVFiables@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.

Effective date

21. The Canadian ABTC pilot begins on June 16, 2014.