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All About TWIC Cards: What You Need to Know

So you need a TWIC card, huh? Don’t sweat it. Getting a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card is pretty straightforward once you know what to do. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about TWIC cards—what they are, why you need one, how to apply, costs, renewal, and more.

What is a TWIC Card?

A TWIC card is a common identification credential required for workers who need access to secure areas of the United States transportation system. It verifies your identity and ensures you don’t pose a security threat. The TWIC program is run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the United States Coast Guard.So if you work in a port, on a vessel, at a maritime facility, or any other job that requires unescorted access to secure areas, you likely need a TWIC card. Some examples are:

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  • Longshoremen
  • Truck drivers
  • Railroad employees
  • Merchant mariners
  • Port authority staff

Over 2.5 million workers across the transportation industry currently have TWIC cards.

Why Do I Need a TWIC Card?

The TWIC program was created to enhance security after 9/11. The goal is to ensure only trusted workers have unescorted access to secure areas of the U.S. transportation network.So if your job duties require unescorted access to a secure area designated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), you need a TWIC card. Examples of secure areas include airport tarmacs, shipping ports, rail yards, and more.Without a valid TWIC card, you won’t be allowed unescorted access to these areas. You may also face delays, fines, or termination if your employer requires a TWIC card.

TWIC Card Application Process

Applying for a TWIC card involves pre-enrollment, enrollment, and card activation. The process is done in person and includes identity verification, security threat assessment, and background check.Here are the steps:

1. Pre-Enrollment

Pre-enroll online at the TSA TWIC website. This will prompt you to:

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  • Verify your identity
  • Provide biographic information
  • Pay the enrollment fee

Pro tip: Check the TSA office locator to find your nearest enrollment center before pre-enrolling.

2. Enrollment

Bring the required documentation to your in-person enrollment appointment:

  • Proof of identity like a passport or driver’s license
  • Verification of citizenship status like a birth certificate or permanent resident card
  • Pre-enrollment confirmation page

At your appointment, TSA will:

  • Verify your documents
  • Take your photograph
  • Scan fingerprints
  • Conduct a background check

3. Activation

Once cleared, return to the enrollment center to activate your TWIC card and create a PIN. Bring:

  • The approval letter you received
  • Another valid photo ID

Then your shiny new TWIC card is ready to use!

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How Much Does a TWIC Card Cost?

As of 2023, here are the fees:

  • Enrollment: $125.75
  • Replacement card: $60

The enrollment fee covers a 5-year card. If your card is lost, damaged, or stolen, you’ll have to pay $60 for a replacement.Cost should never be a barrier to getting a TWIC card. The TSA offers reimbursements for enrollment costs to eligible workers. Talk to your employer or local One-Stop Career Center to learn more.

Renewing Your TWIC Card

TWIC cards are valid for 5 years. You’ll need to renew your card before the expiration date to avoid any lapses.The renewal process is similar to initial enrollment but generally quicker since your info is in the system. You’ll still need to:

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  • Verify identity
  • Get a new photo
  • Pass a security threat assessment

Start checking your expiration date a few months before renewal. You can pre-enroll up to 6 months in advance.

Using Your TWIC Card

Once you have your activated TWIC card, you’ll use it to access secure areas of the transportation system. Here’s how it works:

  • Present your TWIC card to the security guard or card reader
  • Provide your unique PIN when prompted
  • Biometric card readers can scan your fingerprints to verify identity

If you experience any issues with card readers or PINs, contact TSA right away. Don’t wait or you may face access delays.

TWIC Card Special Cases

What if you lose your card? Need to update your information? Not a U.S. citizen? There are special processes to handle unique situations:

Lost or Stolen Cards

Report lost or stolen cards to TSA right away and request a replacement. You can temporarily access secure areas with an approved identity document while your replacement is processed.

Card Updates

You must keep your TWIC card updated with current information. Notify TSA promptly if you have a legal name change, change employers, or have new contact info.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Citizens of other countries who require a TWIC card must provide additional immigration paperwork. Check the TSA website for the documents needed based on your specific situation.

Key Takeaways

That covers the essentials on getting and using a TWIC card:

  • It’s a common ID to access secure transportation areas
  • Required for millions of transportation workers
  • Involves identity verification and background checks
  • $125.75 for 5-year card
  • Renew every 5 years to avoid lapses
  • Report issues promptly to avoid access problems

Ready to get your TWIC card? You got this! Just follow the steps and let TSA guide you through the process. And don’t hesitate to ask questions—they want to help transportation personnel get properly credentialed. Before you know it, you’ll have that shiny new TWIC card in hand!

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