DHS proposes delay in TWIC reader requirement

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a partial delay in final compliance of the TWIC reader regulation for three years after a host of complaints from the maritime industry, regulated facilities and shippers that the rule was confusing and the security justifications for it were flawed.

In a proposed rulemaking published June 22 in the Federal Register, the Coast Guard wants to delay the reader compliance date to Aug. 23, 2021, for two categories of facilities: those that receive certain dangerous cargoes in bulk (CDCs) by non-maritime modes of transportation such as truck or rail, and facilities that receive vessels carrying CDCs but don’t unload the cargo.

The delay would extend to barge fleeting facilities because they may receive vessels that carry CDCs in bulk but don’t engage in vessel-to-facility cargo transfers, according to Caitlyn Steward, regulatory affairs director at the American Waterways Operators.

The proposed rule, however, would not delay compliance for passenger vessel terminals that receive vessels carrying more than 1,000 passengers. They must have readers in place by the Aug. 23 deadline. The Coast Guard estimates that about 165 terminals nationally, mostly those that serve cruise vessels, would have to comply by this date, as well as ferry terminals that handle vessels with more than 1,000 passengers.

The Passenger Vessel Association says the majority of passenger vessels are exempt from the reader rule, and only a few of their terminal members, such as the Staten Island Ferry in New York, will be required to install and use readers.

PVA says it was disappointed that terminals that receive vessels carrying more than 1,000 passengers weren’t included in the delay. “The risk analysis model used by the Coast Guard in making this decision is unfortunately not available to the pubic and, as a result, PVA has no meaningful ability to comment on the risk” assigned to this group of facilities, said Gus Gaspardo, PVA president and president of Padleford Packet Boat Co., St. Paul, Minn.

He said some ferry facilities are having a hard time getting the readers in place before the Aug. 23 deadline because the vendors won’t have the units available. The Staten Island Ferry, which will need multiple readers, has been told by its vendor that the equipment won’t be ready in time.

With the help of the PVA, these operators are applying for waivers from the Coast Guard, but it’s not clear if they will be granted and if so for how long, before the August compliance deadline.

The Transportation Worker Identify Credential (TWIC) and the card reader are part of a broader Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The TWIC rulemaking has been a long process, as it has taken the Coast Guard several years to evaluate public feedback, conduct risk analyses and develop the reader rule, which was issued Aug. 23, 2016, and set the compliance date for Aug. 23, 2018.


About the author

Pamela Glass

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.


  1. Avatar

    The TWIC program has be flawed from the beginning, costing vessel operating companies, facilities and workers time and money. I’m on my third TWIC and have never been required to present it ever. When I’ve tried to use it as identification at airports, ports, even at the Coast Guard Base, it has been refused. I believe the program was part of huge Knee Jerk reaction post 911 that has very little cost/risk/benefit to our security.

  2. Avatar
    George Critch on

    The TWIC card, classic absurdity at its most illogical. We were given a random drug screen the other day. The technician arrived at his convenience, 8AM. The back watch was well into REM sleep. I digress. We were asked for ID and presented our TWIC card. The technician asked for something else, like a drivers license. Okay, here you go. I asked for his ID for our visitor log, wait for it, yes he presented his TWIC. What?

  3. Avatar

    The TWIC has been the stupidest program ever conceived! Here we are, 17 years after 911 and they STILL haven’t deployed card readers, which, without them, the security aspect of the system is essentially incomplete.
    If a commercial outfit had wanted to deploy such a system it could likely have been completed in a few months at most. What a JOKE!
    TWIC is an example of government incompetence at it’s best. As writers above have noted, it is basically worthless, even as an I.D. because many TSA employees don’t even know what it is and would rather see my fake drivers license that I picked up on the corner for $25.

Leave A Reply

© Diversified Communications. All rights reserved.