Getting a TWIC Card – A Trucker’s Quick Reference Guide

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A TWIC card gives certain workers very specific identification.

Some work environments like ports, some labs, national security facilities, federal buildings, and hospitals, most times have workers to go through intense security checks before entry.

And if you intend to work in such environments as a truck driver, you will need a TWIC card.

In this guide, I’ll elaborate on what a TWIC card is, how to get a TWIC card, and a lot of other important questions about it.

What is a TWIC Card?

A TWIC Card is an identification issued by the United States Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

TWIC is an acronym for Transportation Worker Identification Card and the TWIC program gives workers biomedical identification cards that grant permission for truck drivers to access cargo warehouses, ships, and secure port facilities.

Often maritime professionals need to have a TWIC card to get into secure areas without supervision. And the TSA has issued 159,336 TWIC cards, with 69,301 cards activated.

TWIC Card Requirements

Before starting the application process to get your TWIC card, you need to ensure that you meet the requirements so here are the primary qualifications you must satisfy:

  • Provide a United States/Canadian proof of identity and residency
  • Must pay the required fee
  • You must pass through the security threat assessment carried out by the TSA. The security threat assessment considers warrants, convictions, indictments for specific offenses, arrests, and other background checks.
  • You must be a United States or Canadian citizen, a legal permanent resident, or legal non-immigrant alien.
  • You should be a practicing maritime professional or undergoing the process of pursuing a maritime position for which you must have a TWIC clearance.
  • Refugee with a legal status

If you ensure that you satisfy these requirements beforehand and possess these documents before application, you can make your application process a lot faster.

However, even if all the documents are in place, government agencies give an estimate of around 12 weeks for applicants to expect to complete the application process.

With that said, certain things can disqualify you from getting the TWIC card.

Truck crossing border needing TWIC card

What Disqualifies you From Getting the TWIC Card?

There are a bunch of criminal convictions that can permanently prevent you or disqualify you from getting the TWIC card. 

  • Terrorism
  • Transportation security crime
  • Treason
  • Murder
  • Racketeering
  • Possession of a destructive device
  • Crimes committed on board an aircraft, at an airport or maritime ports are thoroughly investigated
  • Improper transportation of hazardous substances

In addition to collecting domestic data on applicants, they also collect background data from international databases like the terror-watch list and Interpol.

While it’s not impossible to get a TWIC card after a criminal conviction, certain crimes may temporarily prevent you from getting approved during the application process.

A conviction for at least one of the below crimes disqualifies an applicant if they were convicted and plead guilty (inclusive of ‘no contest’), or were declared not guilty because of insanity in the space of seven years of the application date.

Or if the applicant got released from incarceration in five years of the application date.

  • Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Immigration violations
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Distribution or possession to distribute a controlled substance
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
  • Robbery
  • Assault with the intent of murder

An applicant will also be disqualified if they provided incomplete or false information in the application. That’s why it’s crucial, to be truthful and open in your application.

It’s important to note that you can appeal to a denial where a case for approval can be made.

Let’s see how.

Can a Convict Get a TWIC Card?

Although it’s a touchy subject, it’s just the way it is.

However, it’s not far stretched for a convicted felon to be approved for a TWIC card.

While someone convicted of those crimes listed above may be initially denied a TWIC card, they can appeal the decision.

If you’re disqualified, you’ll get an “Initial Determination of Threat Assessment” from the TSA with the right to seek a waiver from certain disqualifications or appeal mistakes.

A felon needs to submit documents that support their waiver application:

  • Proof of rehabilitation, like a certificate of completion from a drug treatment program or rehab
  • Recognitions, awards or positive performance reviews got since your conviction
  • Official documentation stating that you have complied with the probation guidelines and that the terms of your sentence have been satisfied or if applicable that you’ve been expunged of your conviction.
  • Sentencing transcript or report that has favorable information on the circumstances around the crime.
  • Letters of support from probation/parole offers, community leaders, employers, family members, elected officials declaring your good character.
  • All information that helps TSA determine that you aren’t a security threat

Every application will get reviewed by a TSA Waiver Review Board and they’ll send a recommendation to the Director of Security Threat Evaluation. This group will decide whether or not they will issue a waiver.

The applicant will receive a written decision denying or granting the waiver in 60 days of the request.

You also have 30 days from the day you receive the denial to appeal the decision.

Related > Trucking Companies That Hire Felons

Big Rig at Port Loading Freight

Should I Get a TWIC Card?

If TWIC credentials are required to do your job, your employer will most likely inform you before or right after you’re employed.

In some cases, your employer may even pay the fees or help you with submitting the application.

However, even if you don’t need a TWIC for your current trucking job, it’s not a bad idea to get one, to open up more job opportunities for you. Never hurts to have that extra endorsement as a truck driver.

If you want to get employed for maritime transportation, then having a TWIC clearance makes you a more appealing candidate for most employers.

So it boils down to what niche in trucking you want to work in and where but regardless it’s wise to get one as it’ll open up more jobs for you.

And that’s nothing but good.

Related > A Guide to Truck Driving Jobs

TWIC Card Applications

As an applicant, you’re required to provide information like fingerprints and maybe even retinal scans. They use this for the TSA background check.

Here’s the application process.

Government Issue Identification

You must get photo identification from the federal and state government to certify your citizenship and identity.

You’ll need two forms of identification like your Birth Certificate, Driver’s License, Military ID, state-issued photo identification, Native American Tribal Document, TSA approved documentation, or Passport.

Going to a TWIC Application Center

You’ll need to visit a TWIC application center to submit your documents (you can do this online. See below) and once that’s done, you’ll be fingerprinted. Then have a photo taken.

You’ll have to pay a new applicant fee of $125 at this point.

How to get a TC?

Let’s see a step-by-step process on how to get your TWIC card:

1. Complete and submit your application online or visit an application center as we previously discussed

2. Book an appointment online

3. Go to a TWIC application center to:

  • Submit required documentation
  • Get fingerprints taken. However, drivers who have already done fingerprints for hazmat endorsement can use the same fingerprints
  • Get a photo taken
  • Show your current United States/Canadian passport, birth certificate, driver’s license or any other acceptable document
  • Make a payment for a non-refundable fee valid for 5 years

4. Go to the application center to get your TWIC card or wait for it by mail.

TWIC Card Locations? Where to Get a TC?

Certainly, the easiest option is to have your TC sent to your mailing address.

You have to find the application center closest to you, and the easiest way to do that is to visit the TSA’s Enrollment Center Locator online:

Next, input the service, which in this case is TWIC, then select the “Enroll” option:

Write in your zip code/airport code in the field labeled “Zip code/City/Airport Code”:

Finally, hit search and you’ll see the closest enrollment centers to your location:

TC Cost

The TWIC card costs $125.50. A replacement card costs $60.

But if you have a valid driver’s license with hazmat or a Free and Secure Trade Card, you pay $105.25.

How Long is the Card Valid?

TWICs stay valid for 5 years. But do renew before that 5 years is up.

When you renews, you’ll get your new card and your old card will be voided.

TWIC Card Renewal – What to do if TC Expired?

If your TWIC card is about to expire soon, you’ll need to renew it in person at a TSA UES enrollment center.

You can book an appointment to save time. Or just walk-in to a center.

If your card is already expired, you’ll have to do the whole thing over as if you’ve never had a card before. Lesson? Don’t let your card expire!

You have 3 months to renew before it expires.

How Can I Find Out My TC Application Status?

You can easily check the status of your application online here.

What Types of Trucking Jobs Require a TC? Who Needs a TC?

Truck drivers that require unsupervised access to maritime facilities and vessels (ships, ports, and outer continental shelf facilities) under the regulation of the Maritime Transportation Act of 2002.

All longshore workers, port facility employees, and merchant mariners who need access to secure maritime vessels and facilities will require a TWIC card.

However, many other professionals need TWIC credentials to carry out their job effectively.

Everyone who requires access to secure cargo holds on ships, cargo warehouses, non-civilian port areas, dockside storage facilities must have a TWIC credential.

Here are some examples of the jobs that require a TWIC credential:

  • Customs officials
  • Coast guard personnel
  • Maritime security staff
  • Credentialed merchant mariners
  • Cruise ship employees
  • Port facility employees

What Regulations Come with Having a TWIC Card?

The TSA recommends that carriers of the TWIC card follow certain guidelines to ensure the safety and functionality of your TC.

Since truck drivers have lots of I.D. cards and credentials they carry with them, it’s possible the card could get damaged and then void.

Here are some tips to protect that valuable card!

  • No bending, folding or punching holes in the card.
  • Store it in its original plastic case
  • Don’t hang your TWIC card in direct sunlight (rearview mirror, vehicle dashboard or visor)
  • Don’t use tape, or laminate your TC
  • Keep away from magnets
  • Don’t carry in your back pocket (you can easily bend it)


One of THE most important things to mention is to be HONEST at every stage of the application process.

If you aren’t and you get found out, you’ll be toast. You’ll be immediately disqualified.

It’s really a straightforward procedure and a handy qualification to have.

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