What Is A TWIC Card and How Do You Get One?
Last Updated on November 21, 2022
There can be many forms for new trucking company owners to fill out and certifications to chase down. Knowing what applications and qualifications will best benefit your business can be a challenge.
But if your trucking company intends to conduct maritime business, there’s one application your drivers shouldn’t skip. Here’s an explanation of what a TWIC card is and who needs one for truckers and trucking company owners.
The Two Types of Truckers Who Are Searching for A TWIC Card
There are two types of truckers that might consider a TWIC card.
The first type is the newbie trucker. If a trucking company owner has recently hired inexperienced truckers, it’s wise to start expanding their qualifications early. The more areas they’re qualified to haul loads, the more experience they can get.
The second type is the long-time hauler with plenty of experience but plans to start hauling into maritime areas. While a trucker might have seen their share of miles inland, it can help to diversify routes and experience.
For a trucking company to expand business areas or a new company exclusive to maritime locations, employing drivers with a TWIC card is necessary. A driver of any level, new or experienced, can apply for a TWIC card.
What Is A TWIC Card?
A TWIC or Transportation Worker Identification Credential is a federal ID card issued by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 introduced new regulations, including the TWIC card. Since then, the credential is necessary for all workers that need access to maritime vessels and facilities.
The TSA issues TWIC cards to transportation workers and the US Coast Guard. For any business at ports or related areas, a trucker needs to qualify for a TWIC card.
Benefits of Having A TWIC Card
If a new trucking company owner needs drivers that can haul loads into ports, the TWIC card is an asset. The certification allows truckers to haul loads into ports, boats, and associated areas.
Truckers without a TWIC card need to be escorted by authorized workers. It can save a trucking company owner time and costs by allowing the trucker unblocked access.
As a bonus, the TWIC is a federally recognized identification, which means you can use it to board a plane. So while some facilities might need additional information, for most flights, it’s the only ID you’ll need.
How to Get a TWIC Card
There are three steps to getting a TWIC card.
1. Fill out an application
The first step to obtaining a TWIC card is to fill out the online application. If you cannot fill out the online form or need to apply in person, you can complete the process at a TWIC application center.
2. Schedule an Appointment
You can schedule an appointment online by filling out a brief form. Alternatively, you can call (855) 347-8371 between 8 AM to 10 PM eastern time. Walk-ins are possible, but as appointments take priority, it’s advisable to book ahead of time.
3. Visit TWIC Application Center
You’ll need to bring documentation that proves your identity and citizenship status. One example of proper documentation would be an unexpired US passport. However, the TSA also lists accepted alternative documentation.
The TWIC card requires a non-refundable fee that covers five years of certification. Applicants can pay with a credit card, money order, company check, certified check, or cashier’s check.
During the visit, applicants will provide fingerprints and take a photo for future verification. TSA will print the picture on the card, and the fingerprints encrypted.
If the application is successful, the TSA will mail the card to the applicant’s home address. However, if a home address isn’t preferred, the applicants may choose to pick up the card at the application center. In addition, truckers can check their application status online.
Truckers applying for a TWIC card need to meet eligibility requirements. The applicants must be US citizens, lawful permanent residents, or naturalized citizens. Additionally, nonimmigrant aliens, asylees, or refugees in lawful status may apply.
Truckers need to provide complete and accurate information. Otherwise, the TSA might reject or delay the application, even if truckers meet basic requirements. Other reasons that impact applicant eligibility include disqualifying criminal offenses or additional factors.
Sometimes an applicant might receive a letter informing them that the TSA has found reasons for potential disqualification. The letter, called a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility, isn’t a complete rejection. Instead, the letter includes instructions about what to do next and steps to help applications move forward.
If a trucker’s status changes in a way that disqualifies their eligibility, the TWIC should be surrendered to the TSA. The card can be mailed to the address on the back of the card and should include a note describing the reason for the card’s return.
How Long Does It Take to Get A TWIC Card?
The estimated assessment time is within 30-45 days after applicants complete the process. It can take longer if errors or disqualifying factors need to be corrected. The TSA recommends applying 12 weeks in advance to assure truckers get their card when they need them.
The TSA will notify TWIC applicants if they are successful. Applicants will also receive a notification when the TSA sends their card. Messages are sent by mail, phone, or email, depending on preferences. Once notified, an applicant can expect their card delivered within ten days.
After notification, applicants have 60 days to report if a card has not arrived. Trucks who need to report non-receipt should visit the Universal Enrollment Services website or call (855) 347-8371 weekdays from 8 AM to 10 PM eastern time.
How Much Does It Cost to Get A TWIC Card?
The cost of the TWIC card is $125.25 for new applications.
There is also a reduced new applicant rate available for $105.25. Applicants are eligible for the reduced rate if they hold a valid Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) or a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card. If new applicants want to take advantage of the offer, they must present their HME or FAST card when they apply.
The expiration date for a TWIC card is five years. However, when an applicant has a reduced rate, the expiration depends on the valid dates of their HME or FAST card.
For returning applicants, replacement cards cost $60.
How to Renew Your TWIC Card
Renewing your TWIC card follows the same process as the original application. Truckers need to fill out the same application form and book an appointment for each renewal. The only difference is price, as renewals cost less.
Once a trucker receives their new card, they need to return or destroy the expired card.
TWIC Canceled Card List
The TWIC Canceled Card List is a security measure. Any TWIC cards canceled while in a cardholder’s possession are placed on the list. For example, if a trucker received their card, but a sudden change means they no longer qualify, the TSA adds the card to the list. Additionally, it includes cards reported as lost or stolen.
Neither the TSA nor cardholders can remove a card once added to the list. Notably, the TSA doesn’t include expired cards on the TWIC Canceled Card List.
While the TSA won’t chase down canceled cards, cardholders should return them. However, as TWIC cards are government property, employers cannot confiscate expired cards. One exception is if an employer retrieves a TWIC card from an employee with an expired work visa to return the card to the TSA.
The Cancelled Card List is separate from the Visual Canceled Card List. The Canceled Card List includes Federal Agency Smart Credential Numbers (FASC-Ns). At the same time, the Visual Canceled Card List provides the Credential Identification Numbers (CINs) of canceled cards. As CINs appear printed on TWIC cards, they offer security officials a means of visually inspecting cards.
The TWIC NexGen or Next Generation is a TWIC card with updated technology. The TSA began issuing the new cards on July 10, 2018, to prevent counterfeiting and misuse. As a result, new trucking company owners can expect to employ more truckers with the new cards than the standard TWIC card.
The NexGen does not cost more than the previous version. For truckers with the older TWIC card, they don’t need to replace their card until it expires. When renewing their card, truckers will receive the TWIC NexGen.
While truckers can change out their previous version for the NexGen card at any time, it comes at a cost. Like replacing a lost card or renewing an application, truckers wanting the NexGen will need to pay $60.
The updated card doesn’t change the application process. The updated features include holographic laminate, two biometric fingerprint templates, and other additions for improved security.
For truckers and trucking company owners loading and driving in maritime locales, a TWIC card is a wise investment. Whether you’re a new trucker or have years of experience, expanding your qualifications can lead to more opportunities.
Jim is the General Manager of altLINE by The Southern Bank. altLINE partners with lenders nationwide to provide invoice factoring and accounts receivable financing to their small and medium-sized business customers. altLINE is a direct bank lender and a division of The Southern Bank Company, a community bank originally founded in 1936.