If you’re a U.S. Coast Guard credentialed mariner, you’ll need a Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) after April 14, 2009. Without a TWIC, you may be in violation of a law.
“TWIC”, explains LCDR Timothy Grant, supervisor of the Marine Safety Detachment on St. Thomas, “is a joint U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) initiative. In essence, it furthers a multi-layer approach to enhancing maritime security and fulfills the mandate of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) & Security and Accountability For Every (SAFE) Port Act of 2006. The goal is to ensure persons that require unescorted access to secure areas are properly vetted.”
Essentially, TWIC is an identification credential for U.S. citizens or those who fall into an eligible immigration category, yachtsmen holding USCG-issued credentials, merchant mariners, port facility employees, long shore workers, truck drivers and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities and vessels. Those not eligible for a TWIC card, foreign mariners, for example, need to be escorted to port by a TWIC cardholder after April 14.
You can jump-start the application process online at: www.tsa.gov/ or by calling (1-866-DHS-TWIC). During this pre-enrollment process, you’ll be asked to enter biographic information required for security threat assessment and be able to make an appointment at a TWIC enrollment center. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, there is a center located on St. Thomas (340-779-6563) and St. Croix (340-713-7860. In Puerto Rico, centers are located in San Juan (787-721-4124) and Ponce (787-651-1626). At the appointment, you’ll be required to show identity documents such as a valid passport or state-issued driver’s license along with an original birth certificate, Voter’s Registration Card or Social Security card. You’ll also need to complete a TWIC Disclosure and Certification Form, pay the enrollment fee of $132 ($105.25 for MMD, MML, or COR holders), provide biographical information (if you didn’t pre-enroll) and a complete set of fingerprints, as well as sit for a digital photograph. Approximately three to four weeks later, you’ll be notified by Email or phone when your TWIC card is ready to pick up from the same enrollment center you visited to start the process. It is valid for five (5) years.
The TWIC card is tamper-resistant and contains the worker’s biometric (fingerprint template), which provides for a positive link between the card and the individual. The Coast Guard will conduct vessel and facility inspections and use hand-held readers during spot checks on credentials.