Russia has joined the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme, enabling eligible business travellers from the Asia Pacific region to visit the country without the need to apply for a visa.
As a full member, Russia will offer visa-free travel for ABTC cardholders, while Russian citizens will be eligible to apply for the card, offering a potentially significant boost to travel in the 18 other APEC countries. The move follows a decree made by President Vladimir Putin last year when Russia hosted the 20th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
“Those applying for APEC Business Travel Cards after 1 June 2013 will have their pre-clearance request go to Russia for consideration,” explained Vladimir Kristov from Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. “Existing card holders or those who applied for a card before 1 June 2013 who seek pre-clearance into Russia must submit the request to their home APEC economy before it is forwarded to Russia,” he added.
The card was found to reduce travel application time costs by more than 40%, immigration processing time costs by more than 50% and reduce application fees by more than 25%.
Currently, 18 countries offer APEC Business Travel Cards, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. The US and Canada are also working towards becoming part of the ABTC scheme.