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TSA eases policy on TWIC renewals
Option eliminates second trip to pick up cards


The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out a new policy for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential that offers a cheaper and less burdensome option to renew cards that will begin to expire this fall.

Beginning Aug. 31, TSA will offer eligible TWIC cardholders the option of a three-year extension of the expiration date at a reduced fee of $60.

Workers taking this option can apply and pay by phone, and make only one trip to the enrollment center to pick up and activate the new card. No new background security checks will be necessary. When the three-year extension runs out, all cardholders must obtain a five-year TWIC.

A standard, five-year renewal is still available at $129.75, but workers would have to make two trips to the enrollment center and also be subjected to a new background check.

The new option “would minimize the cost of the credential and eliminate the second trip to the enrollment center until the full benefits of the TWIC program can be realized,” John Schwartz, TWIC program manager, said in a conference call on Friday with stakeholders.

The extension is being offered because of delays in implementing a new federal rule requiring specialized reader machines that will validate cards, Schwartz said. That rule is now under review at the Coast Guard, which is expected to release a proposed rule by the end of 2012. Card readers are already in use in about 20 ports across the country.

The new option is open to U.S. citizens or nationals with TWICs that expire on or before Dec. 31, 2014.

For cards expiring before Aug. 31, when the new option starts, workers must apply for a standard, five-year renewal.

Waterways operators and their supporters in Congress are generally happy with the new option.

“These changes should help lessen the burden on our nations’ 2.1 million port and transportation security workers as DHS moves toward issuance of a final rule for biometric readers,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

A legislative fix proposed by Thompson is currently moving through Congress that would delay TWIC renewals until June 2014 or the date of implementation of the reader rule, whichever came first. That legislation would also eliminate the required second trip to the enrollment center that is now required for the five-year renewal process.

“This policy represents a step in the right direction,” said Brian Vahey, government affairs associate at the American Waterways Operators. But until further changes are made, men and women joining the towing industry now or who joined and gotten their TWIC in the last two years, must still make two trips to an enrollment center, he said. To obtain a card extension, call the TWIC Help Desk at 1-866-347-8942, 8am –10pm EST or visit the TSA’s TWIC page.   





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