How to Apply for a TWIC Card: Follow These 3 Steps

by | Tuesday, June 10, 2014 |

If you’re a maritime worker who needs unescorted access to secure ports, you are required by law to obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card. It’s simple to apply for a TWIC card, and the application fee is minimal, especially when compared to the negative repercussions that can be enforced if you are found without a TWIC.

What is a TWIC card and who needs one?

Congress established TWIC regulations in 2007 in order to enhance security in maritime transportation. The Department of Homeland Security explains: “If you access a port as part of your job, chances are you will need a

Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), a biometric ‘smart’

card that makes sure only trusted people have access to secure areas of the port.”

TWIC cards are tamper-resistant biometric credentials and contain a digital photo and a fingerprint of the cardholder. You must keep it with you because you are required by law to produce your TWIC card upon request to security guards.

All workers who need unescorted access to secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated ports and vessels need a TWIC card. Additionally, all credentialed merchant mariners and any individual who travels on research vessels anywhere in the U.S. may need a TWIC card.

3 Simple Steps to Apply for a TWIC Card

Applying for your TWIC is a straightforward process:

  • Step 1 – go through the pre-enrollment procedure online, by calling 866-DHS-TWIC, or by visiting your nearest enrollment center. To pre-enroll online, visit the Universal Enrollment Services (UES) website (which offers TWIC pre-enrollment in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration). Although pre-enrollment isn’t necessary, it will save you a lot of time when go to the enrollment center.
  • Step 2 – go to your nearest enrollment center to complete the application. While there, you’ll have to produce any requested documents, and get photographed and fingerprinted. They will then begin a background check on you.
  • Step 3 – you will receive a notification by email or phone that your card is ready. You’ll then go to the enrollment center, verify your identity, and pick up your card.

TWIC: Costs, Exceptions, and Consequences

TWIC cards cost $132.50 and are valid for five years. The Coast Guard explains in its Policy Letter 11-15 that mariners who don’t already have a TWIC card and who operate on board vessels that do not have a security plan are exempt from having to get a TWIC or renew a merchant mariner credential.

However, note that even if you are exempt, you’ll still have to send an exemption statement to the National Maritime Center (NMC). You can visit the TWIC page of the NMC’s website for a sample exemption letter you can use.

It’s important not to procrastinate in getting your TWIC. 46 U.S. Code 7702 and 7703 provides that if you fail to obtain a TWIC, your mariner's credentials could be denied or suspended.

Mariner Resources Online

To read about other topics of interest to mariners, visit the Marine Education Textbooks blog. We also offer helpful resources such as exam study materials, vessel signage, and logbooks.

This entry was posted in no categories.