The U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) was passed in 2003 to strengthen security for the country’s maritime industry, including its vessels, ports and other maritime facilities after the events of 9/11.
The MTSA implemented an identification credential, known as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC card, as one of the security measures that anyone who needs full, unescorted access to MTSA-regulated areas must have.
To get this card, a Texas applicant must meet Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements and complete an application online or in person at an authorized enrollment center, which are located all over the Lone Star State. In addition to filling out an application, applicants must also present supporting documents and pay a small application fee.
What Is a TWIC Card?
A TWIC card, or Transportation Worker Identification Credential card, is required by the federal Maritime Transportation Security Act for workers accessing secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels in the United States. U.S. Coast Guard-licensed mariners also require the credential.
To get a TWIC card, the TSA conducts a background check (threat assessment) to determine if individuals are eligible. People who are U.S. citizens, naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, or non-immigrant aliens, refugees or asylum seekers in lawful status may apply.
Ineligibility and Permanent Disqualifying Criminal Offenses
Applicants may not be eligible for the TWIC card if they do not complete the application, put false information on the application, or have permanent disqualifying criminal offenses, which include:
- Conspiracy to commit sedition or sedition.
- Conspiracy to commit espionage or espionage.
- Conspiracy to commit treason or treason.
- Terrorism, as defined by 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g), or a Texas law that is comparable to the federal law, or conspiracy to commit terrorism.
- Transportation security incidents (TSIs) with a notable loss of life, damage to the environment, disruption of transportation systems, or economic disruption not including a work stoppage or other worker-related action unrelated to terrorism, such as an employer-employee dispute.
- Incorrect transportation of hazardous materials under federal law or comparable Texas law.
- Unlawful dealing, distribution, export, import, manufacture, possession, purchase, receipt, sale, shipping, storage, transport, transfer or use of explosives or explosive devices.
- Threatening or knowingly and maliciously conveying false information regarding the detonation, deliverance or placement of explosives or explosive devices in public, in a government facility, an infrastructure facility or on a public transportation system.
- Violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) or violating a comparable Texas law.
Ineligibility and Temporary Disqualifying Criminal Offenses
The felony convictions listed below are disqualifying if the applicant pled guilty or no contest; was convicted; found not competent to stand trial; or not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of the application date:
- Unlawful delivery, distribution, dealing, import or export of, manufacture, possession, purchase, receipt, sale, shipping, transfer, transporting or use of a firearm or another weapon.
- Fraud, including identity fraud and money laundering, dishonesty or misrepresentation.
- Immigration violations.
- Possession with the intent to distribute, distribution or importation of a controlled substance.
- Kidnapping or taking hostage of another.
- Aggravated sexual abuse or rape.
- Voluntary manslaughter.
- Assault with intent to kill.
- Fraudulent entry into a seaport.
- Violation of the RICO Act or comparable Texas law, other than any permanently disqualifying offense listed above.
- Attempt or conspiracy to the crimes listed above.
An applicant is also disqualified if they were released from incarceration within five years of their application date.
TWIC Card Application Process
Applicants can complete the TSA’s online application or go to an application enrollment center in person by scheduling an appointment online or by calling 855-347-8371 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. Applicants can also walk in, but the TSA prioritizes appointments.
When visiting a TWIC enrollment center applicants will provide identifying documents, such as a valid driver’s license; birth certificate or other acceptable documents; fingerprints; and facial photo. They will also pay a nonrefundable fee via credit card, money order, certified/cashier’s check or company check.
The TSA can mail the applicant’s TWIC card to their residence, or they can get it from the application center. Applicants can check their application status at any time online.
How Much Does a TWIC Card Cost?
A TWIC card costs $125.25 and is valid for five years. If an applicant also holds a valid Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card or Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) they’ll pay a reduced fee of $93. They must present these cards when they apply to get the reduced rate.
If they pay the reduced rate, the TWIC card remains valid for five years from the expiration date of the individual's valid, unexpired HME or from the issuance date of the supporting FAST card. If they wish to renew their TWIC card, they'll pay $125.25 to do so in person. If they are eligible to renew the card online, they’ll pay $117.25.
Getting a TWIC B-1 Visa
Foreign nationals who perform maritime services in the U.S. and who require access to secure areas of vessels and facilities, must apply for a Temporary Visa for Business (B-1 Visa) specifically designed for the TWIC program.
These applicants must meet B-1 eligibility requirements as set out by the U.S Department of Homeland Security. They are eligible for a B-1 visa if they participate in certain activities, including:
- Consulting with business associates.
- Traveling for educational, professional, scientific, a business convention or a conference on specific dates.
- Settling an estate.
- Contract negotiation.
- Taking part in short-term training.
- Traveling throughout the U.S. on business.
- Deadheading on an aircraft.
Official Employer Letter for a B-1 Visa
The applicant must provide an official letter from their employer stating that they need a TWIC card in order to perform their job duties in the maritime industry. The employer’s letter must be given to the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate with the individual’s visa application and contain information regarding the type of work the applicant performs, and the location and duration of that job.
The employer must also provide their contact information in case the Department of State requires additional information or requests follow up.
After TWIC Application Submission
TWIC card applicants should hear from the TSA within 60 days of filling out their application. The process can take longer if there was difficulty in capturing the applicant’s fingerprints during enrollment. Individuals can check their card status online at any time.
Applicants requesting their card by mail will get an email or phone call from the agency letting them know that the card has been mailed. It should come to the address provided by the applicant or to the enrollment center where they applied within 10 days. If the applicant doesn’t receive a response within that time, they have 60 days to report the missing card.
They can report a missing TWIC card at the Universal Enrollment Services website or by contacting the TSA at 855-347-8371, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. If they fail to report the missing card within that period, they must pay a $60 fee to replace the card. A person who develops a disqualifying condition must report it to the TSA and surrender the card by mailing it to the address on the back.
Requirements for Handling a TWIC
Those who get a TWIC card must comply with certain handling requirements. They must:
- Keep the card in the hard plastic case provided by the TSA.
- Keep the card out of direct sunlight.
- Not bend, flex or punch a hole in the card; card should not be carried in the holder’s wallet, as it will bend.
- Not put tape or labels on the card or laminate it.
- Not place it near a magnet or magnetic field.
TWIC Card Enrollment Center Locations in Texas
Following are TWIC card enrollment center locations in the Lone Star State:
- 7010 W Highway 71, Austin.
- 3010 Washington Blvd., Beaumont.
- 1620 S Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi.
- 5801 Marvin D Love Fwy, Dallas.
- 3717 Center St., Deer Park.
- 1100 N Brazosport Blvd., Freeport.
- 5607 E Parkway St., Groves.
- 1717 Turning Basin., Houston.
- 3262 S Loop W., Houston.
- 709 Hwy 35 S., Port Lavaca.
- 18203 Rim Dr., San Antonio.
- 2112 SW H K Dodgen Loop., Temple.
- 2501 Palmer Hwy., Texas City.
- 3702 E Rio Grande St., Victoria.
Renewing a TWIC Card
After one year, the cardholder is considered a new enrollee and must go through the standard in-person enrollment process. Eligible cardholders can renew online if they are a U.S. citizen, national or lawful permanent resident.
If the applicant changes their name, they must call the TSA Help Center at 855-347-8371 to update it before attempting to renew the card online. If they are not eligible to renew the card online, they can renew at their nearest Texas enrollment center.
Replacing a Lost Card
Individuals who have lost their TWIC card can get a replacement card online or by calling 855-347-8371 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. If the applicant pays by check or money order, they’ll need to order the replacement card at their nearest enrollment center.
During the enrollment process, applicants must acknowledge that they understand that when they pick up their replacement card or when their original TWIC card expires, they must turn in their old card.
Upon receipt of their new card, they’ll find the TSA address on the back of the card. They can return the previous or expired card by mailing it to that address or return it to the enrollment center in person.
Is It Possible to Get a Rush TWIC Card?
The TSA does not currently offer next day or expedited delivery for TWIC cards. It’s up to the cardholder to submit their application with enough time to receive the card via the mail or through their enrollment center. Barring any disqualifying factors, most applicants will receive their TWIC cards in fewer than 10 business days.
However, potentially disqualifying factors or delivery issues may hold up the card’s issuance. Therefore, the TSA suggests that individuals apply at least 60 days in advance. They may use the Universal Enrollment Services website or contact the TSA by calling 855-347-8371 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST.
- Homeland Security Today: Security Since 9/11: Creating the Maritime Transportation Security Act and the ISPS Code
- TSA.Gov: TWIC®
- TSA.gov: Disqualifying Offenses and Other Factors
- GovInfo.gov: Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure
- TSA.Gov: Apply
- TSA.Gov: Appointment
- TSA.Gov: Service Status
- USCIG.Gov: B-1 Temporary Business Visitor
- TSA.gov: What Is the TWIC Annotated B-1 Visa and Who Can Apply for One?
- TSA Travel Tips: TWIC Card Office Locations
- TSA.Gov: How Do I Renew My TWIC®?
- TSA.Gov: Enrollment/Renewal
- TSA.Gov: Replacement
- TSA.Gov: What if I’m in a rush and need my TWIC® quickly?
- TSA.Gov: Universal Enrollment Services
- Legal Beagle: What Is a Non-immigrant Visa Number?
- Legal Beagle: How to Recover a Lost or Stolen Boat Title in Texas
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.