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TWIC Card: How It Works and Where To Get One In 2023

TWIC cards are a must-have for maritime vessels. Learn how to apply, eligibility requirements, and the purpose is essential to potential applicants.

A TWIC card is a document that provides security clearance for those in the maritime industry.

But how can you get one?

Understanding the steps of how to apply, who is eligible, and who can qualify is a must-do before researching TWIC cards.

What is a TWIC Card?

A TWIC card is a card required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act for those employed in the Transportation Security Administration and who need special security access.

Without this type of card that acts as an extra layer of security validation, maritime workers would not be able to access maritime facilities.

vector graphic showing a hand holding a twic card

Employees who work in the maritime transportation industry must be able to access shops, warehouses, offices, customs offices, and ferries during their job.

If they are not able to access these secure maritime locations, the speed at which they could do their job would be negatively impacted.

Therefore, the TWIC Card is a must-have for a maritime employee to gain a transportation worker identification credential.

Individuals can obtain this type of card after they have submitted fingerprint biometric information and undergone a full background check that passes the security threat assessment conducted by the TSA.

What Does TWIC Stand For?

TWIC stands for a Transportation Worker Identity Card.

This card is used by the Transportation Security Administration and the United States Coast Guard, which provides unescorted access to secure facilities and allows an extra level of security clearance for certain employees.

What Does a TWIC Card Do?

A TWIC card provides the added security clearance required to work on specific maritime locations and vessels that normal citizens and employees would not be able to access.

TWIC cards provide unescorted access to a TWIC card holder who needs to visit a secure area, port facility, or marine terminal.

Who Can Get a TWIC Card?

Certain individuals can obtain a TWIC card if they meet the eligibility requirements, pass a background check, and pass the security threat assessment.

TWIC Card Requirements

There are specific requirements that employees must obtain before they can apply and qualify for a TWIC Card and become TWIC holders.

The essential eligibility criteria for this card are for the individual to be a U.S. citizen, naturalized citizen,  lawful permanent resident, a refugee in lawful status, or asylee.

If a TWIC applicant does not provide truthful information, omits truthful information, or contains criminal offenses, this can put their name on the canceled card list.

There was a new recurrent vetting program that was expanded in 2014 to ensure the safety of the industry was held paramount.

Applicants must enroll in Homeland Security’s Automated Biometric Identification System, which houses biometric information for almost 260 million individuals around the world.

This department communicates with TSA to confirm or deny if the biometric fingerprint information provided was a match to anyone in the database.

This information can help qualify or disqualify a person from getting a transportation worker identification card.

Lawful Presence in the U.S.

Individuals who apply for the TWIC card must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents.

Potential employers must provide a copy of their status documentation containing their names exactly as it appears on the application.

Any name change must be addressed, and original documentation, such as a birth certificate, must also be provided.

In short, a lawful permanent resident is a person who is a non-U.S. citizen who is legally authorized to live within the country permanently.

Need Access to MTSA Facilities

All personnel who need access to MTSA facilities require a TWIC Card.

MTSA, which stands for Maritime Transportation Security Act, contains a set of regulations and stipulations that guide the creation and order of facilities and vessels.

The TWIC requirements apply to testing personnel, those who require escorted access to an MTSA facility, or a service agent that provides services on an MTSA vessel.

What Do You Need to Apply For a TWIC Card?

Those who are considering applying for a TWIC Card to work in this specific security-heavy industry need to know the steps of how to apply and the documents that must be provided.

Any failure to include particular documents, omit information, or have untruthful information can lead to immediate disqualification.


Acceptable identification for those applying for a TWIC card includes a current U.S. passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate.

Other acceptable documents for identification include an unexpired Enhanced Tribal Card, Free and Secure Trade card, NEXUS card, Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection card, Global Entry card, Driver’s License or Enhanced Identification Card, Permanent Resident Card, or Re-entry Permit.

Background Check

A background check ensures that the person applying for a specific job is credible and trustworthy to work in the industry.

Not only will a background check show any criminal records or convictions, but it can alert the employer to any red flags in the job hiring process.

TSA can determine any individual applying for the TWIC card to be disqualified based on one or more of the following reasons:

  • Interpol analyses
  • Terrorist watchlists
  • Information relevant to an applicant’s identity or suitability

TSA can also determine whether a person is not eligible for the job in question if they could possess a security threat during the assessment process, such as foreign relations, convictions for a serious crime, or a period of foreign imprisonment.

Furthermore, TSA can also disqualify an individual if they have security-related offenses on their permanent record that involve an aircraft, maritime port, or cargo-related incident.

Lastly, there are certain disqualifying criminal offenses that will automatically eliminate the person from the job search if they were conceived, pleaded guilty, or found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Security Threat Assessment

The security threat assessment is a procedure that involves checking the required identification documentation of each new applicant to ensure they are who they say they are and are a lawful permanent resident, U.S. nationals, or U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, the assessment will include two documents if a person cannot provide documentation on the pre-approved list.

These two documents must consist of a valid photo I.D. and valid proof of citizenship.

How Much is a TWIC Card Application?

The cost of your TWIC card will depend on a few factors.

If you’re filing a new TWIC application, your fee will be higher.

However, the fee for an existing TWIC holder will be discounter.

Application Fee

You’ll need to pay a fee when you submit your TWIC card application.

The fee is as follows:

  • New applicant – $125.50
  • New applicant (reduced rate) – $105.25
  • Replacement card/renewal – $60

You can check TSA’s website to determine whether you’re eligible for a reduced rate.

Are There Other Costs or Fees?

In addition to an application fee, TWIC card holders will have to renew their card every five years to remain active.

Each renewal will cost $60. The cost is the same if you need to replace your card for any reason.

How To Apply For a TWIC Card

Future applicants must understand the steps of how to apply for a TWIC Card so the process can go as smoothly as possible.

1. Complete the Application

The first step of applying for a TWIC card is to fill out the online application. If you cannot access the online application, you can visit a TWIC application center in person to fill out the required paperwork.

2. Make an appointment

The Second step of applying for a TWIC Card is to make an appointment online. If you cannot make an appointment online, you can call the phone number during business hours. If neither of these options is possible, potential employees can also go during walk-in hours if it is a time-sensitive matter.

3. Visit a local TWIC Application Center

The last step of applying for a TWIC card is visiting the application center in person. This requires the individual to bring documentation that shows citizenship and identity status, such as a U.S. passport or green card. The TSA has offered an online list of what documentation is acceptable, so all applicants should check this online service before going in person.

4. Pay the fee

Applying for a TWIC card requires individuals to pay a non-refundable fee. This means that even if they do not obtain the card, they will still have to pay the upfront fee during the application process.

5. Wait for the results

the last step of applying for a TWIC card is to wait for the results. Most applicants will have their TWIC card mailed to their home address or available for collection at a pick-up center nearby if they pass the background screening.

How Long Does it Take to Get a TWIC Card?

The average processing time to obtain a TWIC card is between 7-10 business days.

However, TSA warns applicants that it can take up to 30 days to obtain a TWIC Card based on unforeseen delivery issues or potentially disqualifying factors.

How to Check a TWIC Card Application Status

Waiting for a TWIC card can be a frustrating process.

Fortunately, DHS provides an easy way to check your application status online or over the phone.

Use the following steps to check your application status and better understand how soon you’ll be approved.

1. Navigate to the Universal Enrollment Services status page.

2. Enter your name, date of birth, and contact information in the form provided.

3. Click “Next.”

4. Follow any prompts of subsequent screens to see your application status.

If you don’t have access to a computer, you can check your application’s status over the phone.

The phone number is (855) 347-8371.

A staff member is available on weekdays from 8 AM to 10 PM EST.


There are a few commonly asked questions regarding the TWIC card process – applicants who understand the ins and outs of the TWIC card will have a better idea of how to proceed.

How Long is a TWIC Card Valid For?

A TWIC card is valid for five years from the date it was issued.

Individuals must go to a TSA enrollment location to renew the TWIC card for new credentials once it has expired.

How Do You Renew a TWIC Card?

Individuals who have already obtained the initial TWIC Card can renew their card by visiting a TSA enrollment center to receive a new card.

It costs $60 to renew the TWIC card at an enrollment center.

Does it Cost Anything to Get a TWIC Card?

If a person already has a Hazardous Materials Endorsement or a Free and Secure Trade card, they can apply at a reduced rate of just $105.25.

Can You Use a TWIC Card for TSA Precheck?

You can use a TWIC card for TSA PreCheck eligibility during your airline reservation.

All holders have to enter their identification number on their TWIC card during the booking process for the airline.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the process of how to apply for and obtain a TWIC Card is essential for those who are considering getting into the maritime and port security industry.

Check out more information here to save time, effort, and money!

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