What is a Twic Card?
TWIC Card stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential Card. It is a program by the Security Administration together with the U.S. Coast Guard. The aim of the program is to offer a biometric credential that is tamper-resistant to maritime employees who requires unescorted access to protected areas of MTSA controlled facilities. The program was started to protect all U.S owned ports from terrorist activities.
The holders of TWIC cards undergo a comprehensive screening process, so any maritime worker who accesses secure areas of the maritime transportation system unescorted identified and approved worker. The card contains the holder’s fingerprint to facilitate a positive link between the individual and the card.
TWIC card contains an Integrated Circuit Chip for storing the cardholder information and their biometric data. The card can be read by inserting it into a reader or alternatively, by holding it near a “contactless” reader. The card also contains a magnetic strip that is similar to a credit card and a linear barcode on its back. The barcode serves as an alternative reading method.
Why TWIC Card is Required?
- To identify correctly authorized individuals that need unescorted access to protected areas of the maritime transportation system
- Prevent unauthorized persons from accessing the secure maritime transportation system
- Revoke permissions of individuals who fail to maintain their qualifications after getting permissions to unescorted access to secure maritime transportation areas.
Those who are eligible for TWIC according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are Coast Guard Credentialed:
- Merchant mariner
- Longshore worker
- Truck driver
- Port facility employee
- Any other person requiring unescorted access to secure areas regulated by MTSA.
Twic Card Renewal Reason for Desqualification
There are multiple reason for what your twic card renewal can be denied. A TWIC holder can be disqualified if they are convicted of the following felonies:
- Improper transportation of hazardous material
- Unlawful acts that involve explosives, bomb threats, murder
- The crime that involve transportation security incident
- Attempts or conspiracy to commit any or multiple of these acts.
Other Reason for TWIC Card Application denied
In addition to the above cases, the TWIC card application can be disqualified for a certain period of time if an individual committed crimes in the past seven years. The past felonies that might lead to interim disqualification of the TWIC card include those that involve extortion, fraud, firearms, bribery, drug distribution or importation, smuggling, arson, rape, kidnapping, deceitful entry into a seaport, and minor racketeering offenses or conspiracy to commit these acts.
Even though the TWIC program aims to improve security in all U.S controlled ports, it has some major loopholes. People can use U.S.C.G. Policy to access the maritime facilities and vessels without TWIC card for up to 30 days. That is possible if their employer is granted permission by TSA for such temporary immunity. All the employee need to provide is a print out of the approval by the TSA, along with an ID or driver’s license.
How to get a twic card
The process, as we have mentioned a couple of times is lengthy, therefore, it is best if you begin the application process eight to twelve weeks before you need the card. The cards have a lifespan of five years. Applicants have had some delays when applying for the cards that are according to the National Employment Law Project. Those who are majorly affected are applicants that had initial denials due to a background check. It is reported that they face up to six to eight months for them to obtain a TWIC card.
The first part involves 4 steps for the twic card requirements
- Applying for the TWIC card can be a lengthy process. The application is done at the Transport and Security Administration (TSA). Before you visit an enrollment center you will be required to fill out an application form online to verify your identity. In case your application is rejected, you can choose to launch an appeal.
- The second thing you need to do is to find out if you are eligible for TWIC card. It should be noted that you must be a US citizen, a permanent resident or an immigrant with legalized status in the US. Additionally, you must be employed or have a business that requires a frequent visitor at the port. Most importantly, your past should be clean of any felony. You can still get a TWIC card if you have a felony charge as long as it did not involve treason, espionage or murder. However, it may require that you go through some appeal processes to obtain the card.
- After determining your eligibility, it is time to fill out the form online, or in person, or through the phone. Provide your full name, gender, contacts information including email and phone number, and date of birth. The agency can contact you through either email or phone depending on what you prefer.
- The next step is to book an appointment at the TWIC Card location enrollment center by either phone or online. You can still visit the enrollment center without an appointment but you will get long waiting lines, so it is better to make an appointment before visiting. We recommend that you make an appointment immediately after you complete your pre-enrollment application. You can make an appointment online here. Furthermore, you can call and make an appointment using the number (855) 347 – 8371 on weekdays but between 8 a.m and 10 p.m eastern time. Another method is to visit the twic card locations enrollment center physically. You can find the twic card locations closest using this link
For online application, you can use this link, to fill out the form via phone the call center number is (855) 347 – 8371 on any weekday between 8 a.m and 10 p.m eastern time. The third option is to just walk in any enrollment center and fill out the application form.
The second part also has 4 steps as explained below:
- Gather at least one identification document to show at your appointment. This s to validate your identity and citizenship or the status of your immigration. In some case, you will be required to bring two documents including a photo ID like a driver’s license or national ID card and a birth certificate or certificate of naturalization. This is necessary if you don’t have a passport, a Global Entry card, FAST card (Free and Secure Trade) or a green card.
- After ensuring you have the right documents, visit the enrollment center as early as you can (not early than 8 a.m) as wait lines are usually long. At the center, the staff will take your face photo and fingerprints. They will go through your documents to authenticate your identity. For your photo to be taken, you will be asked to remove any headwear with the exemption of religious wear or eyeglasses prescribed by a doctor.
- The third step is to pay for the TWIC card cost which is around $125. The card is good for five years. The TWIC card cost can be lower by $20 if you have a valid driver’s license with a hazardous material endorsement or FAST card. The payment methods are simple, you can use a credit card or debit card.
- The final step is choosing how you want your TWIC card delivered. The card can be delivered in two ways; by mail or it can be sent to your enrollment center. The process takes from four to six weeks for the card to be delivered. The status of your card can be checked at this site.
Waiting for TSA approval
Even as you wait for your card to be delivered, the staff at the enrollment center will still perform some background check on you using national and international databases.
If you chose to pick the TWIC card at the enrollment center, you will receive a phone call or email confirming that your card is ready. You will be required to bring a photo ID at the center.
If your application was not successful on the ground of past convictions or charges, the TSA will send you a letter containing instructions on how to process an appeal.
Twic Card status: Launching an Appeal for rejection
The first thing to do after you receive the letter from the TSA informing you that your application is rejected is to check if you are eligible for an appeal. The reason for your application denial is failed a background check. Even if you have past convictions or charges, you can still be able to have a TWIC card as long as you submit an appeal.
This is possible especially if you were charged but not convicted of the crime, you have charges and convictions for lesser crimes but not felonies, you were convicted of simple drug possession, you don’t have any current arrest warrants or indictments, the felony that you are convicted are assault, kidnapping, extortion, or smuggling in past seven years and you have not been in jail in the last five years. You can request for a waiver with your appeal if you were charged in the last seven years with a felony.
TWIC Card Status Rejected is not the end YET
The second step is to prepare the documents about your charge or conviction. You can obtain the copies of these documents at the court, district attorney or police station. The documents should indicate that the charges against you were dismissed, or that you were convicted of lesser felonies.
If you had a felony conviction over seven years ago, pay your local court a visit and ask for your conviction documents, indicating the date of conviction. If you were in prison over five years ago, ensure that you are served with documents indicating the date of your release. You can obtain the documents from prison or jail.
The next step is filling out the TWIC Request Cover Sheet. Please note that the TSA TWIC Request Cover Sheet comes with the letter you received informing you that your application was denied. In this form, explain why you think TSA was wrong to deny you the TWIC card, why you think the TSA rejection was unfair. After filling out the form, ensure you make a copy of it together with all documents you will be sent to the TSA.
If you were convicted of a felony is the space of seven years, you should request for a waiver. Requesting for a waiver may make it possible for you to get a TWIC card, though you will need to add some more documents. If you provide the necessary documents, your waiver may be approved.
Additional Document Required if it was denied
The additional documents include a personal statement that explains your conviction charges, employment history, preferably at a port, a statement explaining your personal growth since the last time you had troubles with the law.
Furthermore, you will have to provide a document from jail or prison that verifies your date of release, another document from your parole officer indicating that you followed all the necessary rules for your probation, several letters of approval or endorsement, one letter from your parole officer, another one from your employer or supervisor, and at least another two from family or close friends.
Additionally, you will be required to provide proof that you took part in drug rehabilitation programs, counseling, anger management, or any other personal growth training since your last conviction. Obtaining certificates from these programs or support letters from your counselors will greatly help your case.
Twic Card requirements when rejected
After you have gathered all the twic card requirements, mail them together with the form to the TSA offices within sixty days from when you received the rejection letter. Check the date on the letter from TSA. It is also best to ask the post office to give you a delivery confirmation receipt when you take these documents for mailing. This receipt will be proof to you that you did send the documents and that they safely reached the TSA offices.
Use the following address to mail the form; Transportation Security Administration, TSA TWIC Processing Center, PO BOX 8118, Fredericksburg, VA 22404-8118.
After mailing the documents, you will have to wait for sixty days for the TSA to make a decision. Sixty days from the date of receiving your documents. You will be sent a letter via mail declaring whether your appeal was successful or denied.
Getting TWIC card renewal
As we have mentioned here in this article, the TWIC cards are only good for five years. The cards come with a hard plastic case for protection. Keeping your card inside this plastic case will help prevent physical damages. You should also avoid bending the card or it close to magnets. By observing these few cautionary measures, your TWIC card will see through the five-year lifespan.
After the five years, you will be required to renew your TWIC card. The steps for renewing the card is rather straightforward. There is no standard procedure for renewing it as compared to applying for a new one. Whether you are the new applicant or current TWIC holder, you will be required to fill out the same online application form, make the same appointments, and bring the same documents that verify your identity.
Any person who is eligible for the TWIC card can easily complete the renewal process.
First, visit the TSA website and navigate to the application section. Just like a new application, you can either fill an online form or physically visit the enrollment center.
Whichever method you choose, you will still have to visit the TSA website to find the nearest location of application center or for online application filling.
TWIC Renewal Elegibility
The next thing is to check if you are eligible for , even if you are renewing the card. Remember five years is a long period of time and a lot of things can happen within that time. Ensure you pass the background check requirements. There is a bunch of disqualifying criminal convictions, though most of them are quite unusual. The most common crimes that may lead to disqualification includes smuggling, drug dealing, fraud, racketeering, and extortion. Visit this link for the complete list of the crimes.
Fill out the application form which is an exercise that will take about ten minutes to complete. Since it is something you have gone through before, this shouldn’t be a problem. But again, five years is a long time and many people probably have already forgotten how the filled the form. Don’t worry, all you need to remember is basic personal information that includes the exact place you were born, the reason you are applying for a TWIC card, and without forgetting your citizenship status. Furthermore, it is up to you to decide the documents that you will provide to validate your identity.
The twic card requirements application online
After that, the schedule for an appointment at any of the application centers to provide your documents that will prove your identity. The application centers are all over the country. Find the nearest location center using this site. It is not a must that you make an appointment with the application center. You can actually just walk in and wait in the line, long wait line. So it is a good thing to schedule an appointment so that you get first priority from the staff at the center.
Prepare the necessary documents to bring with you at the appointment. This is the documents that prove your identity. The documents are pretty standard, common ones such as government-issued identification cards. This shouldn’t long to gather.
These identification documents include a passport, green card or an enhanced driver’s license. If you have one of these documents, that might be all you will need to validate your identity.
If you don’t have either of the above-mentioned documents, you will need to bring along more than one document. This includes a birth certificate and a commercial driver’s license. TSA has the list of all the documents they accept in their website. Just check it out on this page. In fact, you can get a personalized list of these documents too here.
TWIC card Renewal Fees
After bringing along the twic card requirements documentation and the staff has proved your identity, pay the renewal fee which $128. If you have a commercial driver’s license with a hazmat endorsement, all you will need to pay is $105.
The method of payment is through credit card, money order company check or a certified check.
Just like the first application, the will be mailed to you or to your nearest application center or the center that you chose. You can monitor the status of the application at any time using this website link. The application will still take up to sixty days for it to be approved, or denied. Whichever the case, you will still receive a letter from TSA stating that your application was successful or denied.
Replacing a TWIC card
If you lost your card or it is severely damaged, you can request for a replacement. You will still have to make sure you are still eligible. Your eligibility status can change any time.
If you have been found guilty of any of the disqualifying felonies or have pleaded no contest since the last time you applied for a TWIC card, you may no longer be eligible for application. Another thing that may lead to disqualification is if you have been found not guilty because of insanity to any of the disqualifying crimes. Also if you are under indictment you will no longer be eligible for application.
The replacement fee is $60, which you will have to pay at the application center.
The procedure is still the same, wait for sixty days after which the card will either be mailed to you or the nearest application center.
Though the program has had some success stories, it has not prevented the harsh critics from around the country. Many people are critical of the over $420 million the program has cost so far with little to show. A report by GAO in 20013 indicated that the TWIC card pilot program was unreliable and questionable. In fact, people termed them “at best no more useful than library cards.”
As a result, the House of Representatives passed in 2014 the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act to guide the U.S Department of Homeland Security on how to assess the effectiveness of the TWIC program.
In the future, TWIC could be needed in other transportation sectors like airports, railroads, refineries, and chemical plants. It is predicted that soon, the whole manufacturing industry would need workers to have TWIC cards.
There are many trucking companies that does not require drivers to have a twic card. Also freight brokers that work with many freight forwarding companies and need to transport regular cargo from one place to another that does not need the card. So if you are not elegible you still can drive a truck and make money doing it.