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Thousands of workers access maritime areas and transportation facilities every day. American ports manage trillions of dollars of imported and exported goods, making it clear that the security of this infrastructure is a vital interest of the U.S. economy. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires all individuals to be screened and verified to access the ports, upon evaluation the TSA will then issue the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). The TWIC card is a safety measure for U.S. maritime ports to ensure that freight is not illegally tampered with by regulating who has access to maritime transportation facilities.
Who needs the TWIC card?
If an individual needs unescorted access to restricted port areas, they need a TWIC card. Truck drivers, mariners, longshoremen, and airport servicers are some of the occupations that require authentication. Based on your tasks and the specific location of your duties, the TWIC requirement may vary, therefore be sure to confirm with both your employer and the facility regarding the requirements that must be met. It follows logically that one ought to confirm these details before attempting to enter the area; if you need to access a port and do not have a TWIC card you will be required to pay for an escort (a TWIC holder employed at ports who are qualified to guide people in restricted and secured areas).
How to get the TWIC card?
According to TSA resources, candidates for TWIC verifications must pass a security threat assessment and be either a US citizen or a lawful resident. Individuals must be lawfully residing in the United States and without a criminal record (this includes if you have been convicted of any felonies). After determining one’s eligibility, you can start the application process. Doing the online application seems to be the easiest route:
- Complete the online application or schedule an appointment at an application center to complete the process in-person.
- Provide the required documents to confirm your identity, and then bring those required documents to an enrollment center where you will be fingerprinted and photographed. View a list of acceptable documents here.
Pay a non-refundable fee valid for five years with a credit card, money order, company check or certified/cashier’s check.
- New applicant: $125.25
- New applicant reduced rate if applicable: $93.00*
- Eligible with CDL plus the HME and/or FAST card (expiration will coincide with comparable credential).
- In-Person renewal: $125.25
- Online renewal: $117.25
- Replacement card: $60.00
The credential will either be mailed to you or available for pick up at an application center. Furthermore, the TSA keeps the status of your application accessible to you via the service status website provided.
TWIC Card benefits
Loads that require you to go to ports or associated areas have a reputation for taking an exorbitant amount of time, there’s no need to make that reality worse by not having a TWIC card and being stuck waiting for an escort. It is important to consider the availability of escorts, because even during regular operating hours, you may be required to wait for an escort to be available. Additionally, you are charged for the escort service each time it is used. The cost can rack up to over $125 for commercial vehicles per visit, and that is during service hours. If you require an escort outside of regular operating hours the cost doubles in some cases, charging $250 for one escort service. Some ports are closed in the evenings and on the weekends, and since truckers often work long hours making every minute count, hitting one of these windows can be a serious problem. It would be a major disruption for a trucker to possibly wait days to drop off or pick up a load at a port because of the increased fees. Each port varies in their standard operating hours and often charges substantially more to provide escort services after hours, on weekends, and on holidays.
As the saying goes, time is money. This cost can be avoided by getting the federal authentication for yourself. If you do business at ports often, it is a wise investment to obtain a TWIC card.
Beyond the amount of time that it will save you, it also enables you to take on higher profile loads that bring in more revenue. Airport jobs for example often require this credential. The more loads you qualify for, the more options and bargaining power you have when accepting loads. Not everyone has a TWIC card, and if a load requires it, they will pay you more because the job requires more credentials. This can be a game-changer for truckers wanting to increase profit and make their difficult (and important) work more worth the sacrifice. The most important benefit is that it helps you to get higher quality loads, and in this way, it pays for itself and then some.
You are also able to use it as a form of identification for air travel. The Integrated Circuit Chip (ICC) inside the TWIC card stores the authenticated individual’s information and biometric data. This means that, additional to professional usage, you can use this credential as a passport or identification for air travel as it proves you have been federally screened. This is just the ‘cherry-on-top’ though because the primary benefits of getting authorized is that it saves you time and puts more money in your pocket.
What Happens if you don’t have it?
Without it you will be required to pay for an authorized escort in order to enter sensitive transportation areas. This will lengthen your pick-up and drop-off time considerably. Not having the TWIC card in these cases will actually cost you money in the long run.
TWIC Renewal Process
Unfortunately, it does expire every five years and you’ll have to renew. There’s no need to worry though because renewing is quite easy. The TSA advises that you start the renewal process at least 60 days before the expiration date. The most convenient method of renewal is via the online application at the TSA’s Universal Enrollment Services website. You will be asked to provide personal information, such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. You will also need to provide information about your employer and the transportation facility or vessel that you access. Upon completion, you will have to pay the renewal fee, which in the long run is not a bad rate considering you pay once and it is good for five years. Your last step is to schedule an appointment at an enrollment center and once again provide your biometric data and return your expiring card. The TSA estimates that the waiting period for renewals is four to six weeks for processing and delivery. Top of Form
How much is a TWIC card?
– The TWIC card cost for new applicants it is $125.25, if eligible for the new applicant reduced rate it is $93.00.
How long does it take to get a TWIC card?
– The TSA estimates that it takes 7-10 business days. You can track your TWIC card status with the TSA’s TWIC card application status online tool.
How to renew TWIC card?
The most practical method of undergoing a TWIC card renewal is to complete the renewal process online on the UES website.
What if I lose my card?
TWIC card replacement costs $60, and the replacement process will be similar to the original process assuming you still meet TWIC card requirements.
To recap, there are many benefits of obtaining a TWIC card. It saves both time and money, as well as opening additional streams of revenue by virtue of having the credential. The renewal and replacement processes are simple, and the upfront costs are quickly covered by the money saved and made with the card. If you need or want unescorted access to U.S. ports, this card is a necessity.