Russia has officially joined the APEC Business Travel Card scheme in the beginning of June, allowing ABTC card-holders from other APEC economies to enter its borders without a visa, according to the statement issued by the APEC Business Mobility Group. 

The agreement "on Russian Federation accession to the APEC Business Travel Cards scheme" came into force on June 1.

Russian businesspeople, heads and employees of the companies, as well as state officials, are now eligible to apply for the card to enjoy facilitated entry into 18 other participating APEC economies without having to separately apply for visas.

"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, a consular expert at the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Russia.

"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 expalined. "If approved, cardholders would require the issuance of a new card with "RUS" inscribed on the back."

Valid for three years, this travel document eliminates the need for its holder to possess a visa when visiting other APEC participating economies as long as pre-clearance has been obtained during the application process. There are currently more than 120,000 active ABTC cardholders.

The ABTC program also reduces cardholders’ cross-border business travel costs in the APEC region by 38 percent, according to APEC Policy Support Unit research.

Holders of such cards, however, are not allowed to visit Canada and the US that are currently transitional members of the ABTC scheme.

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