What is a TWIC Card?

By Leslie Bloom - Updated February 26, 2018
Container operation in port.

Ports and their associated facilities are at high risk for security breaches given their locations and precious cargo. If your job requires accessing these secure areas, you’ll need more than just a regular ID to gain access.

Tip

A TWIC card is an enhanced security card the government issues to help reduce threats to the nation’s ports.

About the TWIC Card

The U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act requires all workers who need access to secure port areas to hold an enhanced security card called the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

A TWIC card is required for port facility employees, truck drivers, longshoremen, members of the Merchant Marines and other positions that regularly access secure maritime areas. The card includes your full name, photo and two fingerprints.

TWIC cards are required only to access secure areas. Other areas can be accessed with regular identification.

Obtaining a TWIC Card

TWIC cards are available to United States citizens and certain immigration categories, including permanent residents and nonimmigrant refugees in lawful status. Applicants of a TWIC card must complete a background check to make sure they are eligible to receive one.

The first step to obtaining a TWIC card is to complete the pre-enrollment application. This application is available on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website and at physical application centers. You must provide standard identifying information to complete the application.

The next step is to visit a TWIC enrollment center. At the application center, you’ll submit required documentation, have your photo taken and get fingerprinted. You must furnish your current driver’s license or U.S. passport, along with your birth certificate. A complete list of alternative forms of identification is available on the TSA website.

You can find a TWIC enrollment center through the Enrollment Center Locator on the TSA website. Entering your ZIP code or airport code will return a list of local enrollment centers. The TSA recommends making an appointment at a local center via the TSA’s online scheduler or by calling (855) 347-8371.

Cost of a TWIC Card

Fees for a TWIC card are set by the TSA. The fee is about $125 for new applicants and $60 for a replacement card. The card is valid for five years from the date of issue.

A reduced new applicant rate of a little more than $100 is available to workers holding a valid driver’s license with a hazardous materials endorsement, or a Free and Secure Trade card. A reduced-rate TWIC card is valid for five years from the issue date of either the hazardous materials endorsement or Free and Secure Trade card.

The fee can be paid by credit card, certified or company check, or money order.

How Long Does it Take to get a TWIC Card?

If you make an appointment at an enrollment center, any appointment should take a maximum of 15 minutes. If you don’t make an appointment, you’ll have to factor in waiting time.

Once you submit your completed application, you should receive your TWIC card within 45 days. Delays can be caused by failing to get accurate fingerprints. You can check the status of your application on the TSA website anytime after submission.

Who Issues TWIC Cards?

TWIC cards are issued by the TSA. The TSA is the federal administration responsible for maintaining the safety of America’s transportation systems, including ports and vessels.

Several other federal administrations are involved in the background vetting process. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducts a security threat assessment based on your information. Your fingerprints are provided FBI to check against its database. The Social Security Administration checks your Social Security number to ensure the information is accurate.

Can you Get a TWIC Card with a Felony Charge?

Having a felony charge may disqualify you from obtaining a TWIC card. TSA has two categories of felonies that can disqualify you from obtaining a card: permanent disqualifying criminal offenses and interim disqualifying criminal offenses.

To be permanently disqualified, you must have been convicted, pled guilty or found not guilty by reason of insanity for the listed offenses, no matter when they occurred. These offenses include terrorism, espionage, murder and unlawful possession or transport of an explosive device.

To be disqualified via an interim disqualifying criminal offense, you must have been convicted, pled guilty or found not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of your application date. You may also be disqualified if you were released from prison after conviction within five years of your application. These offenses include arson, smuggling, kidnapping, robbery and assault with intent to kill.

You can also be disqualified if you are wanted or under indictment in any civil or military jurisdiction for any of the felonies listed on the TSA website.

About the Author

Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications.

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