The TWIC Card: What Is It and Why Do Truckers Need One?

twic card

What is a TWIC card?

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential is known as a TWIC card. Anyone who wants access to restricted locations of the nation’s marine infrastructure must have it, according to the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

A TWIC card is required for CDL drivers that pick up from and deliver goods to ports. Truckers must show their TWIC cards if they need to enter restricted locations (outside of those accessible to civilians).

To see if you qualify for a TWIC card, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) runs a background investigation (also known as a threat assessment). If you pass, the TSA then provides the card. To obtain a TWIC card, you don’t have to be a US citizen. Non-immigrant aliens and legal permanent residents may also enroll for the TWIC card.


Are TWIC cards required for truck drivers?

It is not legally required for truckers to have a TWIC card if they exclusively operate on short-haul interior lines or only move merchandise from train yards to facilities.

But even if a truck driver will not really deal with ports, some trucking businesses can still insist that they obtain a TWIC card so they can deliver to and pick up from port facilities in the future if necessary.


The complexity of obtaining a TWIC card

Although it is a rather simple procedure, getting a TWIC card might take some time. You have the option of starting the application procedure online or finishing it all in person by scheduling a time with TSA at an application facility. A valid ID (such as a passport, visa, etc.) and birth certificate are required.

To complete everything at once, don’t forget to bring the necessary papers with you to your meeting at the application office.

You need to pay a $125.25 non-refundable new application fee in addition to having your fingerprints taken. You may qualify for a discounted cost if your CDL is currently valid and has a HazMat endorsement.

Since it might take up to 6 weeks to receive the progress of your application after you have been fingerprinted, be prepared to apply for your TWIC well enough in advance. The TWIC card is valid for five years after the date of issuance and will be sent to the address you gave when you applied.


What makes you ineligible for a TWIC card?

Permanent and temporary exclusions are the two types of exclusions that affect TWIC cards. For whatever reason, CDL drivers who are not eligible for a TWIC card or who fail the security threat assessment won’t be allowed to access ports to pick up or deliver cargo.


Temporary Disqualifications

You will not be eligible to apply for a TWIC for five to seven years if you commit any of the following violations.

  • Illegal handling of firearms or other weapons, including their importation, exportation, shipment, transit, reception, distribution, manufacturing, purchase, receipt, transfer, and dealing
  • Extortion
  • Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration irregularities
  • Importation, sale, or possession of a restricted drug with the intent to sell
  • Arson
  • Taking hostages or kidnapping
  • Violent sexual assault or rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Entrance into a seaport illegally
  • Voluntarily causing death


Permanent Disqualifications

You will never be able to obtain a TWIC card if you are found guilty of any of the following crimes or enter a guilty plea to any of them.

  • Espionage or planning to engage in spying
  • Conspiracy to commit sedition or sedition itself
  • Treason or treason-related planning
  • Federal terrorism offense
  • A crime involving transportation security incidents
  • Hazardous substance transportation done wrongly
  • Illegal handling of explosives or explosive devices, including their ownership, use, sale, distribution, manufacturing, reception, transfer, shipment, transit, import, export, storage, and dealing
  • Murder