Coast Guard eases TWIC requirements for thousands of mariners

WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard announced just before the New Year the publication of a policy letter that exempts a number of mariners from the requirement to obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential when renewing or obtaining a Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner credential.

The policy letter, effective Dec. 29, provides immediate relief for mariners who otherwise would need to obtain a TWIC card to get or renew their MMC. The policy letter also provides the Coast Guard with an expedient means to comply with a portion of the requirements set forth in Section 809 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010.

“These changes eliminate the TWIC requirement for mariners who operate vessels not required to have a vessel security plan or who are not actively sailing on their merchant mariner credential,” Capt. Eric Christensen, chief of the Office of Vessel Activities in Washington, D.C, said in a statement. “This policy letter solution uses Coast Guard resources and capabilities to lessen the impact on an estimated 60,000 mariners while we work on a regulatory solution to address the full scope of Section 809.”

Prior to the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 becoming law, all mariners holding a Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner credential were also required to obtain and hold a valid TWIC card. Section 809 of the Act, however, permits the Coast Guard to exempt any mariner not requiring unescorted access to a secure area of a vessel from the requirement to hold a valid TWIC card as a precondition of receiving a MMC.

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