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
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,
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.