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How do you identify an office employee in a crowd? They will always have a lanyard around their neck, with an identification card that carries all the details. These cards allow the employees to access their workspace and other areas based on the nature of their job.

Transportation Worker Identity Credential, popularly known as TWIC, is an identity card issued to employees of maritime transportation services in the U.S. The employees get unrestricted entry to secure parts of buildings, such as ships, ports, customs offices, and ships and vessels. 

What is a TWIC?

The Transportation Worker Identity Credential card is tamper-resistant and issued to personnel associated with marine transportation services. The card has a computer chip and a magnetic strip containing your biometric data, which gets scanned or swiped at access points. It also works as a security measure to limit unescorted access to restricted areas of regulated maritime facilities, ports, and ships. 

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the United States Coast Guard are responsible for issuing TWIC to eligible personnel. TSA started implementing the card in 2007 and managing around 2.2 million active Transportation Worker Identity Credentials.

In 2018, the TWIC NexGen card was introduced with advanced features to secure authentication and validation of the card more effectively. TSA incorporates updated technology in the latest design of cards that they began to issue in July 2018. 

New fleet business owners now prefer having new ones for drivers engaged in maritime transportation services. The upgraded card includes holographic laminate, two biometric fingerprint templates, and other features for improved security. These new features make the card a top choice amongst new fleet businesses. 

However, holders of the older version of the card do not need to worry. Their card is valid until the date of expiry. After which, they will be issued the newer TWIC NexGen version. 

Who Needs a TWIC?

Transportation Worker Identity Credentials are necessary for individuals associated with maritime transportation systems and different types of professionals. The following personnel needs a TWIC as a part of service requirements. 

Coast Guard

If you work in a coast guard, you need Transportation Worker Identity Credentials to get immediate access to ships, cargo, and ports. It would be highly beneficial for you because you have to manage maritime search and rescue missions, assist distressed travelers, and handle dangerous situations at sea. You also look after security measures at the port and be present as quick responders in emergencies.

Longshore Workers

As a Longshore worker, you may need access to ships for handling, loading, and unloading cargo, checking storage arrangements, and inspecting cargo for safety. Your role is very significant in the shipment and transportation industries, so, you must obtain a Transportation Worker Identity Credential to perform inspections and keep a record of incoming and outgoing cargo.

Truck Drivers

Truck drivers frequently carry cargo between ports and often need access to areas where civilians are generally not allowed. As a fleet manager, you should make arrangements for easy access to your drivers in port areas and coordinate with the port staff to ensure that all cargo is safely delivered. So, your drivers need to carry TWIC to drive in secure areas within a port facility.

Port Facility Employees

There are different levels of employees working in a port facility. This includes the following:

  • Warehouse managers,
  • Port authority officials,
  • Customs officers,
  • Administrative professionals, 
  • Computer technicians, 
  • And many others. 

So, If you are working as a port facility employee and you need to work in many different areas, you must carry a TWIC to get entry to offices or workspaces. 

Security Staff

The security personnel requires convenient access to almost every corner of the ship or port. They are responsible for protecting passengers, crew, and cargo if there is any attempt to threaten safety. Security staff require access to different areas to conduct safety inspections and need TWIC credentials to get permission and authority to carry out the duties.

Cruise Personnel

You may be an officer or supervisor working on a cruise ship, so you need access to secure areas of a cruise ship and hence require a TWIC to prove your identity. 

Who Is Eligible To Get TWIC Cards?

A TWIC card acts as an added security clearance to enable you to work on specific maritime locations and vessels that other citizens and employees would not be able to access. Individuals applying for Transportation Worker Identity Credentials need to meet the eligibility requirements. The applicants must be US citizens, lawful permanent residents, or naturalized citizens. To summarize, the primary eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • One should be a US citizen, a lawful permanent resident, or a nonimmigrant with lawful status.
  • Innocent of any major legal offense.
  • Need to pass through background and security checks.

If you are operating a trucking business for transporting cargo to and from ports, your drivers need to provide authentic and accurate information, otherwise, TSA might disqualify your application.

You may consider expanding and diversifying your fleet operations by venturing into maritime transportation. Therefore, you should hire or recruit drivers with Transportation Worker Identity Credentials. Again, you may require your existing drivers to haul loads in naval areas and arrange to get them the TWIC card.

Benefits of TWIC Card

TWIC cards offer you a significant credential to get unescorted access to ports and secure areas of ships, helping you complete jobs more quickly. The various benefits achieved through TWIC are as follows:

Acts as a Security Proof

TSA conducts strict criminal history checks and robust security threat assessments before issuing Transportation Worker Identity Credentials to a person. It means only legitimate and reliable people can earn this identity proof. 

Again, you can use it as valid identification and security proof to get other credentials like a driving license or a passport. The latest design provides another premium facility by allowing you to board planes using the card in some areas.

Improves Reputation

A valid Transportation Worker Identity Credential gives you the security clearance to access secure areas of ports, ships, and other restricted sites. A TWIC cardholder receives more recognition which helps to improve his reputation as a safe employee in the industry. If your drivers hold TWIC, it helps you gain an advantageous position as a fleet owner over your competitors.

Saves Time and Cost

The TWIC empowers you with the authority of entry and movement within the ports and other confidential areas without depending on security escort officers. You will save time and money with unrestricted access to these areas. 

You will get easy and quick access without wasting time on security checkups or paying the escort fee. TWIC will upgrade your security clearance and allow you to access the secure sites without interruptions or hassles.

Improves Income Potential

The Transportation Worker Identity Credential improves your credibility as a transportation worker and helps you to add another endorsement, further widening the scope of work. You get it through rigorous testing and strict security assessment, so you deserve a good status in the transportation industry as a TWIC card holder. 

It can bring new opportunities and scope of work, which can help you earn better profit. Most companies look for credible workers and rely on their services, so with more drivers with TWIC cards, you are likely to get more transport orders, thereby improving the income potential. It will upgrade your security clearance and allow you to access the secure sites without interruptions.

Access to Enhanced Security Programs

A TWIC card is not only a simple identification tool but makes you eligible to go through several security training and workshops conducted as a part of the TWIC program. As an eminent cardholder, you get regular updates on important information on this program. Moreover, there will be training programs and review sessions to make you more equipped to handle any situation of security breach or threat.

How to Get a TWIC Card?

There are a few steps you have to follow to get a TWIC card. The steps are as follows:

  • Fill out an application: The first step is to submit an application online through the TSA website or apply in person at the TWIC application center.
  • Schedule an appointment: You can schedule an appointment with the representative by filling out a form, calling the given number to book an appointment, or walking in to submit the documents. However, an appointment in advance would minimize your wait time.
  • Provide documentation: On the scheduled date, visit the application center with all your relevant documents to prove your identity and citizenship status, along with other documents. After your documents and identity are verified, a staff member will take your photo and record your fingerprint. The card will carry the picture, and the fingerprints will act as encrypted data for biometrics.
  • Pay the fee: You have to pay the required non-refundable fee that covers a five-year validity. You can choose from different options for payment. If you already hold a valid Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) or a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card, your fee amount will be reduced.
  • Receipt of card: TSA will conduct thorough background security checks based on the information provided. If you meet all the qualifications and standards, the TSA will issue the TWIC card. You can choose to have your card mailed to your address, or pick it up from the office.

The estimated time for receiving the TWIC card is about 30-45 days after the completion of the application process. The period may extend if there are any errors or disqualifying factors that need to be corrected. You need to apply considering this time gap so that you can get the card when you need it.

The TSA will notify you through phone or email when they dispatch the card. You will receive your card approximately within ten days.

How to Renew the TWIC Card?

The validity of Transportation Worker Identity Credentials is five years from the date of issue. You need to check the expiry date and visit the TSA’s website or a TWIC application center to renew the card. 

As per the rule, the credentials will be verified on background checks and threat assessments, so you need to follow the previous process, which means filling out the online application, making appointments, and bringing the documents to verify your identity as per the original records. 

It is always better to initiate the renewal process well before your TWIC expires so that you get the new card on time and ensure that your security clearance and authority to access specific maritime areas always remain active while you are working.

Regulations For Using A TWIC Card

There are a few rules, guidelines, and precautions that you should follow while using and handling the TWIC card. These are as follows:

  • Protect your card from damage or soiling by keeping it in the plastic cover provided by TSA.
  • Do not fold or scratch the card.
  • Keep the card away from direct sunlight and heat.
  • It is recommended not to laminate or put any tape or labels on the TWIC card.
  • Do not try to punch any hole in the card.
  • Keep the card far from any magnetic substance or magnetic field. 

Disqualification of TWIC Card

To your astonishment, you may find a disqualification by the authority even after submitting all required documents and fulfilling all eligibility criteria. It may happen if the applicant provides incomplete or false information or if there are disqualifying criminal offenses on the record. 

TSA performs background checks on applicants and collects data from various sources and databases, like police records, etc., and verifies the credibility of the applicant.

If TSA finds any criminal offense of a lesser degree, they may still be eligible under certain conditions. Lesser crimes, such as bribery, immigration violations, and assault, will disqualify the applicant if the conviction occurred within seven years from the application date or if the applicant was under judicial custody within five years of the application date.

Conclusion

Truckers and trucking company owners involved in loading and driving in maritime areas should consider taking advantage of Transportation Worker Identity Credentials for easy and unescorted access. Whether your drivers are new or experienced, if you are expanding your operations to docks, cruise, port facilities, and maritime areas, it is a tool that you should not overlook. 

You must ensure that your drivers possess the Transportation Worker Identity Credentials that improve your credibility and reliability as a transporter and helps save your time and cost.

This article guides you with all relevant information about TWIC cards and discusses in detail what a TWIC is, its significance, how to get one, and which jobs require you to have TWIC cards.

Matrack helps you with advanced technology solutions to make your operations safer and drivers more efficient, handling various transportation assignments, including maritime services.

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