Transportation Worker Identification Credential Program

Frequently Asked Questions

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What laws govern TWIC?

In accordance with the requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act, or MTSA, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) will serve as an identification card for all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities and vessels and all mariners holding Coast Guard issued credentials or qualification documents.  Controlling access to secure areas is a critical component of DHS’ efforts to enhance port security.  Additionally, TWIC implementation will comply with the schedule established in the SAFE Port Act.

What is TWIC?

TWIC is a common identification credential for all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities and vessels, and all mariners holding Coast Guard-issued credentials.  TSA will issue workers a tamper-resistant “Smart Card” containing the worker’s biometric (fingerprint template) to allow for a positive link between the card itself and the individual. 

How will the TWIC be used?

During the initial rollout of TWIC, workers will present their cards to authorized personnel, who will compare the holder to his or her photo, inspect security features on the TWIC and evaluate the card for signs of tampering.  The Coast Guard will verify TWICs when conducting vessel and facility inspections and during spot checks using hand-held scanners, ensuring credentials are valid.  A second rulemaking, anticipated in calendar year 2007, will propose enhanced access control requirements, including the use of electronic readers by certain vessel and facility owners and operators.

Will TWICs be used for access control?

Yes, TWIC will be integrated into existing access control systems, although owners and operators are not required to purchase, install, or maintain card readers until technologic and logistic improvements are complete (to be included in a second rulemaking).  Until card readers are in place, workers requiring unescorted access to secure areas will present their TWIC to authorized personnel for entry.  However, owner/operators may integrate TWIC into existing access control systems now if they choose to do so.  The Coast Guard will conduct unannounced checks using handheld readers to confirm the identity of TWIC holders.  A second regulation will propose card reader requirements that utilize all of the unique technologies employed in the TWIC. 

Where can I read the TWIC rule?

Click here to read the TWIC rule (pdf, 1Mb). You can also read this rule and get more information on port security by visiting the U.S. Coast Guard's Homeport Web site.  The final rule will be published in the Federal Register January 25, 2007 and will be available for viewing or downloading at  The docket can be accessed at; docket numbers for TWIC are TSA-2006-24191 and USCG-2006-24196 and the docket number for MMC is USCG-2006-24371.  The NPRM, comments, Federal Register, and other documents are available on the docket for public inspection.

Was the public involved in the rulemaking?

Yes. In addition to direct involvement from the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee, TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard held four public meetings around the nation and received more than 1,900 comments from workers, port owners and operators, small businesses and others who would be affected by the new program.  All comments were carefully considered and significant changes to the NPRM were made in the development of the final rule. 

What is the implementation schedule?

TWIC enrollment will be phased in over an 18 month period.  The TWIC rollout plan will be posted to this Web site as soon as it becomes available.  Vessels must implement a TWIC Program 20 months after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.  Compliance for facilities will be phased in by Captain of the Port, or COTP, zone and the compliance date for each zone will be published via notice in the Federal Register at least 90 days in advance.

What measures are in place to protect small businesses, such as small passenger vessels?

TSA and the Coast Guard worked with the Small Business Administration to minimize adverse financial and operational impacts on small businesses wherever possible.  The rule includes provisions that allow MTSA-regulated passenger vessels (excluding cruise ships) to establish employee access areas for crewmembers who do not require unescorted access to secure areas such as the pilot house and engine room.  Employee access areas are areas that support the passenger areas, and crewmembers who are typically in these areas are waiters, entertainers, and galley staff.  This provision reduces the impact on employees who rarely need to use spaces beyond those designated for support of passengers, while maintaining the integrity of a vessel’s secure areas.

Other measures include the production and distribution of a Small Business Compliance Guide, temporary access provisions for newly hired employees, an informational web site and a live help desk to assist small businesses with compliance through successful implementation of the program.

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Who must get a TWIC?

An estimated 750,000 individuals will be required to obtain a TWIC.  This includes Coast Guard-credentialed merchant mariners, port facility employees, longshoremen, truck drivers, and others requiring unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

Who can apply for a TWIC?

The following individuals are eligible to apply for a TWIC per 49 CFR 1572.105:

  1. A national (includes citizen) of the United States
  2. A lawful permanent resident of the United States
  3. A refugee admitted under 8 U.S.C. 1157
  4. An alien granted asylum under 8 U.S.C. 1158
  5. An alien in valid M-1 nonimmigrant status who is enrolled in the United States Merchant Marine Academy or a comparable State maritime academy.  Such individuals may serve as unlicensed mariners on a documented vessel, regardless of their nationality, under 46 U.S.C. 8103
  6. A nonimmigrant alien admitted under the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia, the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the United States and Palau
  7. A commercial driver licensed in Canada or Mexico who is admitted to the United States under 8 CFR 214.2(b)(4)(i)(E) to conduct business in the United States
  8. An alien in lawful nonimmigrant status who has unrestricted authorization to work in the United States, except—
  9. An alien in the following lawful nonimmigrant status who has restricted authorization to work in the United States—

What happens to my TWIC when my lawful nonimmigrant status expires?

The applicant must report the disqualifying condition to TSA and surrender the TWIC.  In addition, the TWIC becomes invalid.  If the applicant is in one of the permissible visa categories and the employment for which the visa was granted ends:

Will a non-U.S. citizen be able to get a TWIC?

Yes.  The rule includes a list of various immigration categories that are eligible to apply for a TWIC, including nationals, refugees, asylees, lawful non-immigrants with unrestricted work authorization, and certain professionals with restricted work authorization. 

What can disqualify me from getting a TWIC?

An individual who lacks lawful presence and certain immigration status in the United States, has a connection to terrorist activity, has been determined to lack mental capacity, or was convicted of the certain crimes will be ineligible for a TWIC. 

What if I do not meet the qualification standards?

All applicants have the opportunity to appeal an Initial Determination TSA makes that an applicant does not meet the standards.  TSA provides applicants the reason for the Initial Determination and instructions on how to appeal it.  If an applicant knows that he or she does not meet the standards concerning criminal activity or mental capacity, or is in Temporary Protected Status at the time enrollment, the applicant should check the box on the enrollment form “applying for a waiver.”  If the applicant becomes aware that he or she does not meet the standards concerning criminal activity or mental capacity when TSA issues an Initial Determination, the applicant may apply for a waiver at that time.

What are the disqualifying crimes?

A comprehensive list of crimes will be posted on TSA’s web site and is contained in section 1572.103 of the rule. 

In summary, some convictions are disqualifying no matter when they occurred; they are espionage; sedition; treason; terrorism; a federal crime of terrorism; improper transportation of a hazardous material; unlawful possession, use, or sale of an explosive; murder; threats to a place of public use (government facility, public transportation system, or infrastructure facility); violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in which the predicate act is one of the crimes listed above,  and crimes involving a transportation security incident.  A transportation security incident is a security incident resulting in a significant loss of life, environmental damage, transportation system disruption, or economic disruption in a particular area.  A work stoppage, or other nonviolent employee-related action, resulting from an employer-employee dispute is not a transportation security incident.  Convictions for espionage, sedition, treason and terrorism are not eligible for a waiver.

Other crimes are disqualifying if conviction occurred with 7 yrs or release from incarceration occurred within 5 yrs; they are unlawful possession, use or sale of a firearm or other weapon; extortion; fraud; bribery; smuggling; immigration violations; distribution or importation of a controlled substance; arson; kidnapping or hostage taking; rape or aggravated sexual abuse; assault with intent to kill; robbery; lesser RICO crimes.

How will I be notified to get a TWIC?

Facility and vessel owners/operators are required to inform employees of their responsibility to possess a TWIC and what parts of the facility and vessel will require a TWIC for unescorted access.  The intent of this requirement is for owners/operators to determine which of their employees will need a TWIC and inform those employees in enough time for them to comply with the requirements.  Owners/operators are also encouraged, but not required, to provide this same information to personnel who are not facility or vessel employees, e.g. contractors, truck drivers.  Coast Guard Captains of the Port will also be working with the local Area Maritime Security Committees to communicate enrollment center locations and scheduling, as well as TWIC requirements and compliance dates.

What are secure areas, passenger access areas, employee access areas, and public access areas?

Secure area means the area on board a vessel or at a facility or outer continental shelf facility over which the owner/operator has implemented security measures for access control in accordance with a Coast Guard approved security plan.  It does not include passenger access areas, employee access areas, or public access areas.

A ferry, passenger vessel, or cruise ship may designate areas within the vessel as passenger access areas.  A passenger access area is a defined space, within the secure area, of a ferry, passenger vessel, or cruise ship that is open to passengers.  It is not a secure area and does not require a TWIC for unescorted access. If passenger access areas are designated, the owner or operator must maintain a visual representation onboard the vessel with the approved VSP detailing where these areas are located as required by 33CFR104.120(c).

A ferry, passenger vessel, excluding cruise ships, may designate areas within the vessel as employee access areas.  An employee access area is a defined space, within the secure area, of a ferry or passenger vessel that is open only to employees and not to passengers.  It is not a secure area and does not require a TWIC for unescorted access.  Employee access areas may not include any areas defined as restricted areas in security plans.  If employee access areas are designated, the owner or operator must maintain a visual representation onboard the vessel with the approved VSP detailing where these areas are located as required by 33CFR104.120(c).

A public access area is a defined space within a facility that is open to all persons and provides pedestrian access through the facility from public thoroughfares to the vessel.  Any facility serving ferries or passenger vessels certificated to carry more than 150 passengers, other than cruise ships, may designate an area with in the facility as a public access area.  Public access areas should already be designated in the facility security plan as it is not a new addition to 33 CFR Subchapter H.

How do I know the information you collect on me is safeguarded?

Privacy and information security are critical to the TWIC program.  Information collected at the enrollment center or during the pre-enrollment process, including the signed privacy consent form and identity documents, is scanned into the TWIC system for storage.  Information is encrypted and stored using methods that protect the information from unauthorized retrieval or use.

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What is the enrollment process?

The enrollment process consists of the following components:  optional pre-enrollment, enrollment, fee collection, security threat assessment and notification of the results, and issuance of the TWIC to the applicant.  During enrollment, applicants will be required to visit the enrollment center to provide biographic information and a complete set of fingerprints, sit for a digital photograph, and pay the enrollment fee.  Regardless of whether the applicant pre-enrolls, the applicant must bring identity verification documents and in the case of aliens, immigration documents to the enrollment center so that they can be scanned into the electronic enrollment record.  All applicants must sign a disclosure form when they enroll, by which they agree to provide personal information for the security threat assessment and credential.  The list of required documents an applicant must present will be posted on this Web site.

What documentation is required for a TWIC?

Applicants must provide the appropriate documents in order to verify their identity such as an unexpired U.S. passport; an MMD; or a drivers’ license plus a secondary document.  The complete listing of acceptable ID verification documents will be available on this Web site.

What if I do not have the required forms of identification or do not wish to sign the disclosure form?  

Enrollment will not proceed at that time and you will not be able to obtain a TWIC.  Applicants are required to present these documents as well as sign the disclosure form.

Where do I go to enroll?

Approximately 130 ports have been identified for enrollment sites.  TSA will use a combination of fixed and mobile enrollment stations to make the enrollment process as efficient as possible for applicants and owners or operators.  The enrollment locations and directions to these sites will be available on this Web site.

What is pre-enrollment?

The pre-enrollment process allows applicants to provide much of the biographic information required for enrollment; to select an enrollment center where they wish to complete enrollment; and to make an appointment to complete enrollment at the enrollment center of their choosing.  Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to “pre-enroll.”

Are appointments required for enrolling?

Although applicants may schedule an appointment to complete enrollment at an enrollment center appointments are not required and walk-ins are welcome. 

How long does enrollment take?

The enrollment process for a pre-enrolled applicant is expected to take approximately 10 minutes.  The enrollment process for an individual who chose not to pre-enroll is expected to take approximately 15 minutes.

 How much will port workers be charged for a TWIC?

 The fee for TWIC will be between $139 and $159 and the card is good for 5 years.  The contract for the enrollment provider will be awarded soon.  Once the contract is awarded the final fee will be set and announced via Federal Register Notice.  Workers with current, comparable background checks (HAZMAT, merchant mariner document (MMD), certificate of registry, or merchant mariner license, or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) will receive a discounted fee between $107 and $127.

What is the fee for a replacement card?

The card replacement fee (for lost, stolen, or damaged TWICs) is currently $36.  However, due to revised estimates, this cost is anticipated to be higher than proposed.  TSA proposes to increase this fee to $60 in the final rule and invites public comment on this issue.

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Security Threat Assessment

What does the security threat assessment consist of?

 The assessment includes checks against criminal history records, terrorist watch lists, and immigration status.  If no adverse information is disclosed, TSA typically completes a security threat assessment in less than 10 days.  However, processing time increases for an applicant with a criminal history or other disqualifying information, and is further lengthened if the applicant initiates an appeal or waiver.  This security threat assessment is the same for those applying for, transferring, or renewing a HAZMAT endorsement (HME) on their state-issued commercial drivers licenses (CDLs).

Will the results of my threat assessment be shared with my employer?

 If TSA determines that an applicant poses an imminent threat to transportation or national security, TSA may notify the applicant’s employer.  Generally, TSA will not provide the reasons for a disqualification to an employer.  However, if TSA has reliable information concerning an imminent threat posed by an applicant and providing limited threat information to an employer, facility, vessel owner, or Coast Guard Captain of the Port would minimize the risk, then TSA would provide such information.

What if I have already completed a comparable threat assessment?

Applicants who have completed a comparable threat assessment, such as a hazardous materials endorsement, FAST card, merchant mariner’s document (MMD), or merchant mariner license, and wish to pay a reduced TWIC fee because they do not need another threat assessment, must present their hazardous materials endorsement, FAST card, MMD, or merchant mariner license at enrollment.  The TWIC expiration date for FAST, MMD, and merchant mariner license holders will be five years from the date on which those credentials were issued.  The TWIC expiration date for HAZMAT endorsement (HME) holders will be five years from the date of the HME issuance.

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Waivers and Appeals

Is there going to be an appeals and waivers process?

Yes.  Applicants who are denied a TWIC will be notified of the reason for denial and instructed on how to apply for an appeal or waiver.  All applicants have the opportunity to appeal a disqualification, and may apply to TSA for a waiver if disqualified for certain crimes, or if they are aliens in Temporary Protected Status.  Applicants who seek a waiver and are denied may seek review by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  The applicant has 60 days from the time they receive a Final Determination of Threat Assessment to provide the required information to TSA for consideration.

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Card Issuance

How will the cards be issued?

The applicant will be notified by email or phone, as indicated on the application, when his/her credential is available at the enrollment center.  The applicant must return to the same enrollment center to pick up his/her TWIC. 

How long is the TWIC card good for?

Generally, TWICs remain valid for five years, unless renewed before the five-year term ends.  Upon renewal, an applicant receives a new credential and the old credential is invalidated in the TSA System.  TSA does not plan to notify TWIC holders when their credential is about to expire because the expiration date is displayed on the face of the credential.

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Roll-out Schedule

Will you rollout TWIC to all ports immediately?  How long before this card is in use for access control nationwide?

No.  The initial enrollment will be phased, based on priority (port size, volume, location, number of employees, etc.).  This information will be posted on this Web site when available.  We anticipate it will take 18 months to vet and issue credentials to the estimated 750,000 workers who will be required to obtain a TWIC.

What technologies are being used in the national rollout?

The TWIC will be a Smart Card (i.e., a card with a small integrated circuit chip embedded in the card) and will contain the following technologies:

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Merchant Mariners

Will these rules affect all merchant mariners?

Yes.  Under law, all credentialed U.S. merchant mariners (this includes all persons holding a Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner’s license, merchant mariner’s document (MMD), Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Certificate, or certificate of registry (COR)) would obtain a TWIC.  With the implementation of TWIC, although still a certificate of identification, the Coast Guard MMD would no longer serve as a mariner’s primary identification document, and would primarily serve as proof of the bearer’s professional qualifications.  The Coast Guard has drafted a supplementary proposed rule (published in the same Federal Register edition as the TWIC final rule) that proposes to combine the elements of all four current merchant mariner professional credentials into one certificate called the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). The Coast Guard and TSA are streamlining the process for the two credentials to reduce costs, duplications of effort and processing time for mariners.   If the MMC proposed rulemaking is finalized as currently written, the Coast Guard would begin issuing the MMC 18 months after the effective date of the TWIC rulemaking and would phase in the replacement of mariner’s current credentials over a period of 5 years. Mariners would be issued their credential in the form of an MMC at the time they renew their current credential, or when applying for a new credential.  The proposed rulemaking would not affect the validity of a mariner’s current credential.

How much will the MMC cost?

The cost of the MMC would be the same as the cost of the current mariner documentation.  The only change would be the removal of additional issuance fees ($45) as there would no longer be multiple credentials to issue.

 What are the overall costs of the MMC?

We foresee the MMC adding no additional cost to mariners, and in fact, it should reduce the overall cost burden.  Merchant Mariners would submit information required for the MMC at TWIC enrollment centers when they apply for their TWICs.  Mariners would only need to visit one of the 17 Regional Exam Centers to take an examination as the MMC would be mailed after the visit to the TWIC enrollment center.

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How many transportation workers participated in the prototype evaluation?

As of December 31, 2005, more than 4,000 workers were issued prototype TWICs.  Participants in the Philadelphia and Los Angeles/Long Beach areas received TWICs after completing TSA-performed name-based threat assessment.  Participants in the state of Florida underwent a criminal background check conducted by the state of Florida as well as the name-based assessment performed by TSA before being issued prototype TWICs.

Where did the prototype take place?

The prototype was conducted at 26 locations in the geographical areas of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Wilmington/Philadelphia and Florida’s deepwater ports.  Participation was voluntary for the prototype. Examples of participants included truck drivers, longshoremen, and container terminal and airport personnel. 

During the prototype phase TSA tested the card in other modes of transportation.  Will this credential be required for rail or airport employees?

The initial rollout of TWIC will be focused on the maritime mode, which will include rail workers and truck drivers who require unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities, and vessel personnel.  Once the initial maritime rollout is complete DHS will look at the possibility of requiring use of the credential in other modes of transportation.

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