Truck drivers need to apply for several licenses and certifications depending on the loads they want to haul. But in some cases, your regular CDL or special endorsements won’t qualify you to transport cargo to certain locations and government facilities.
If your company works with a maritime agency, they might demand that you also get a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, commonly referred to as a TWIC card.
But what is a TWIC card and why do truck drivers need it?
In this article, we’ll discuss how to get a TWIC card as well as the potential benefits of having one. Continue reading to discover the process and requirements for applying for your TWIC credentials.
- What is a TWIC card for truck drivers?
- How to get a TWIC card?
- How long does it take to get a TWIC card?
- How to renew a TWIC card?
- Renewal or replacement of a TWIC card
- How to maintain and safeguard your TWIC Card?
- How to check the status of TWIC card cancellation
- The new version of TWIC cards
What is a TWIC card for truck drivers?
The official TWIC meaning is a simple one: it’s a card that allows holders to enter maritime facilities and vessels without additional verification.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in conjunction with the United States Coast Guard, issues TWIC cards that give the bearer access to secure facilities. This provision falls under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
The TWIC card stores personal and biometric data, which the port authorities can access using a contactless reader. Alternatively, they can read the barcode to verify the bearer’s identity.
Who needs a TWIC card?
As mentioned earlier, every individual that wants access to any MTSA facility must have a TWIC card.
So what is a TWIC card for truck drivers?
This card provides the same privileges and freight opportunities to everyone holding it. Once you have a TWIC card, you enjoy the same access to secure facilities, regardless of your occupation.
Other professionals that might need to apply for a TWIC card include:
- Coast guard personnel.
- Maritime security staff.
- Cruise ship employees.
- Customs officials.
- Merchant mariners.
- Longshore workers.
- Port facility employees.
- Persons requiring unescorted access to MTSA-regulated areas.
Advantages of a TWIC card
Since the accreditation is stressful, let’s check out the potential benefits of having a TWIC card:
- You can enter ports without security escorts monitoring every move.
- Your TWIC card will save you time by reducing the number of checks you need to go through when visiting a government port facility.
- You can travel with your TWIC card since it is a TSA-issued document.
- Your TWIC card makes you more employable, as big carriers may prefer drivers with a variety of documented credentials.
Without a TWIC ID, you may struggle to transfer your cargo to and from secure ports and other maritime facilities, which will only cost your business or employer money.
How to get a TWIC card?
Applying for a TWIC card is no walk in the park; you’ll need to meet all requirements and pass background checks from multiple government agencies. Let’s go through the details for truck drivers who wish to apply for TWIC card issuance.
TWIC card requirements
Every TWIC applicant must meet certain base conditions. Here are the mandatory TWIC card requirements for drivers:
- US citizenship. Only US citizens, naturalized aliens, green card holders, and lawful permanent residents can obtain a TWIC card. Non-legal aliens, refugees, and asylum seekers are not eligible for this application.
- Maritime professionals. You can’t walk in from anywhere to demand a TWIC accreditation. For the TSA to process your application, you must present documents that show you are a maritime professional or truck driver.
- Non-felons. Applicants with criminal records involving violent crimes will find it difficult to pass the background checks or meet TWIC card requirements.
Filling out the form to get a TWIC card
Once you meet the initial requirements, you can start the TWIC card process by filling out the form.
You can start working on your online application by following the instructions on the TSA’s official website. This procedure will take you around 20 minutes to complete and submit.
Alternatively, you can head to a TSA application center to submit your documents for the TWIC application. If you have a registration center close to you, this is the better option. But first, you must book an appointment online or by phone to start the TWIC card process.
Here are the documents to carry when visiting the application center (bring all that apply to your situation):
- Valid U.S. Passport.
- Enhanced Tribal Card.
- Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Card.
- NEXUS Card.
- Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) Card.
- Global Entry Card.
- U.S. Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or Unexpired Enhanced Identification Card (EID).
- Permanent Resident Card (I-551) or “Green Card”.
- U.S. military ID card.
- U.S. retired military ID card.
- U.S. military dependent’s card.
- U.S. Birth Certificate.
- U.S. Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561).
- U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (N-550 or N-570).
- U.S. Citizen Identification Card (I-179 or I-197).
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240).
Of course, you won’t have all the documents listed above. All you need to meet TWIC card requirements is a document that proves your identity as well as one that shows you are staying in the country legally.
How much does a TWIC card cost?
All new applicants must pay a one-time, flat fee of $125.25 during the application process. This payment covers the card’s five years of validity. If you already have a hazmat endorsement or a FAST card, you’ll then pay the reduced fee of $105.25 instead.
Bio and crimes check
Every applicant must go through the TWIC card background check to determine if they have a criminal record or ties to a hostile regime.
At the application center, an agent will collect your fingerprint, which will appear on the card eventually. The agent also checks your name on the Interpol database, terrorist watchlists, and prison records to see if any red flags pop up.
Here are the crimes that disqualify you either permanently or temporarily from obtaining a TWIC card:
PART A - Permanent disqualification:
- Transportation security incidents (TSI), resulting in a significant loss of life, environmental damage, transportation system disruption, or economic disruption.
- Unlawful transportation of hazardous material.
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, manufacture, purchase, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, import, export, storage of, or dealing in an explosive or explosive device.
- Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit the crimes on this list.
PART B - Temporary disqualification:
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase, distribution, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, delivery, import, export of, or dealing in a firearm or other weapon.
- Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud and money laundering.
- Immigration violations.
- Distribution, possession w/ intent to distribute, or importation of a controlled substance.
- Kidnapping or hostage-taking.
- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse.
- Assault with intent to kill.
- Fraudulent entry into a seaport.
- Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
- Voluntary manslaughter.
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit crimes in this section.
PART C — Wanted or outstanding warrant/indictment:
- Applicants will be disqualified if they are awaiting indictment or wanted under civilian or military jurisdiction for the crimes mentioned in Parts A and B.
TWIC card application method
You can ask the agency to mail the TWIC card to your home address. However, if you deem your mailbox unsafe or you rarely stay at home, you can collect your card from the application center. Weigh your options and choose the most convenient.
How long does it take to get a TWIC card?
The duration of the TWIC card application process varies depending on the length of the TSA background check. You can schedule an appointment in one day and head to the application center to start the procedure.
If you have a clean record, and you complete the application without any errors, you can obtain your TWIC card within six weeks of the initial TWIC card application. But if you have some errors in your application, you may wait up to 12 weeks to get your card.
How to renew a TWIC card?
Your card only lasts five years, after which you’ll need to submit the same documents and go through the background check again. But before the TWIC card expires, it might get lost or damaged, meaning that you have to replace it.
So let’s check out details on how to renew a TWIC card.
Before you renew your TWIC card, check with the TSA to determine if you are still eligible for the application. Since the TSA now uses the FBI’s Next Generation Identification Rap Back for TWIC holders, they can block your card access depending on updates to your criminal history:
- Visit the “For Industry” page on the TSA’s official website.
- Click on “Replace a Card” on the page.
- Enter your information and complete the process.
Important notice: Your legal name must match exactly on all identification documents brought to enrollment for your replacement TWIC card.
Cost of a TWIC card
The TWIC card renewal cost is $60 since you are already in the database.
Renewal or replacement of a TWIC card
Some drivers cannot get a TWIC card replacement after five years because of the following reasons:
- Your status as a legal alien has expired.
- Your green card was revoked.
- New crimes appear on your criminal record.
- You made mistakes during the application for renewal.
How to appeal to get a replacement TWIC card?
The TSA will send you a letter detailing the reasons for rejecting your application. If you feel the reasons are unfair, you can launch an appeal to revoke the ban.
How do you go about this process? For starters, you need to write a letter indicating the mistake. Then you must attach documents showing that you weren’t convicted for the crime. You might need to visit your local court to get these documents.
Next, fill out the TWIC Request Cover Sheet, which often comes with the rejection letter. Depending on the crime, you might need to provide documents showing you completed rehab, anger management programs, or community service.
With every document assembled, you can send the package via mail to the TSA TWIC Processing Center in your area. You’ll receive a response within sixty days. Visit your local TSA center for more information.
How to maintain and safeguard your TWIC Card?
Losing your TWIC card revokes all your access to all secure maritime facilities and could even cost you your job. So, here are TSA recommendations to protect your card and keep it working:
- Store your card in a plastic case and attach it to a strap.
- Keep the card away from direct sunlight and hot temperatures.
- Don’t try to fold, bend, or deform the TWIC card in any way.
- Keep it away from your back pocket.
- Keep the card away from strong magnetic fields. They could affect the magnetic strip.
- Don’t give your card to other people.
- Keep it away from adverse weather conditions.
How to check the status of TWIC card cancellation?
What is the Canceled Card List?
The Canceled Card List is a database that contains all TWIC cards that the TSA has revoked. The agency updates this list twice daily, allowing port authorities to stay up to speed about potential security threats. So you can check the status of your TWIC card before you start a trip.
If your card enters this list, you can no longer remove it. The only option is to return the invalid card to the TSA and apply for a new one. Reporting your card as lost or damaged also steers it to the Canceled Card List.
The new version of TWIC cards (TWIC NexGen)
The TWIC NexGen card is a new card series that the TSA launched in 2018 as a countermeasure to counterfeiting. This update comes after 11 years of maintaining the old design and analyzing its main flaws.
Here are the conditions guiding the issuance of TWIC NexGen cards:
- Your current card will remain active until you renew it for the updated design.
- Holders of the old card must return it to the government to collect the new NexGen ones.
- You have to follow the same renewal process as before: apply online, complete the payment, visit the enrollment center, and submit documents for assessment.
- You can receive your new TWIC cards at your home address or the TSA headquarters within ten business days.
- The cost of a TWIC card update remains the same for the new model. The old TWIC card price for renewals is $60.
What makes the NexGen card different?
The new design contains enhanced security features, such as holographic laminate, color-coded expiration date, biometric fingerprints, and an IC chip bearing the holder’s bio and photograph. You can also board a plane with this new TWIC NexGen card if it is still valid.
To avoid delays, the TSA advises applicants to start processing their renewal requests at least 30 days before the old card expires.
What jobs can I get with the TWIC card?
You can get several jobs with TWIC cards because it covers hazardous materials endorsements and regular CDL licenses.
Check out other jobs (and their average salaries) that a TWIC card can help you land:
- Warehouse operator ($45,000 per year).
- Terminal manager ($71,000 per year).
- Geologist ($58,000 per year).
- Trainmaster ($85,000 per year).
- Heavy equipment operator ($50,000 per year).
- Environmental scientist ($80,000 per year).
- Coast guard ($75,000 - $100,000 per year).
- Construction superintendent ($79,000 per year).
The list of opportunities is endless because your TWIC card is still an additional badge to your CV.
As a truck driver, getting a TWIC card gives you access to seaports and other government-owned marine facilities and vessels. But before you can obtain this card, you have to submit your documents and pass a rigorous background check.
If you have convictions for violent crimes, you might not be able to obtain this card. In case of any rejection, you can appeal to the TSA to review your qualifications. Protect your card at all costs, because if it gets damaged or lost, you’ll have to repeat this strenuous application process.
If you want to work with a company that cares about the driver’s overall health and wellbeing, HMD Trucking is the place for you.
Here is a list of your potential annual earnings (with benefits included):
- Local Dry van — $70,000 - $75,000
- Regional Dry van — $80,000 - $85,000
- OTR Solo — $90,000 - $95,000.
- OTR Flatbed Solo — $95,000 - $100,000
- OTR Teams — $210K - $235K.
Our personalized approach to trucking makes us the favorite destination for experienced drivers. Even if you don’t have a TWIC card yet, you can still work with us. Apply for one of our jobs to start your trucking adventure.