Passports please!

No, no, it’s not a surly airport TSA agent barking at you, but another part of that much-maligned agency that will be reviewing your application for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

Beginning July 1, TWIC applicants will have to produce yet another documentation, this one to prove that they are U.S. citizens. Before that, TWIC applicants simply checked the citizenship box in the online TWIC application.

The TSA is making the change so that TWIC aligns with the same citizenship requirements as other security programs, such as the Hazardous Material Endorsement and TSA Pre-Check.

Don’t have a valid passport? TSA will also accept an enhanced driver’s license or other documents that are detailed on the TSA website.

“Requiring proof of citizenship will ensure that all TWIC applicants meet eligibility requirements for the credential,” the agency said.

In another development, TSA says it has now resolved a processing delay that was affecting some applications, and that most applicants should receive their TWIC within a month of enrolling, or in some cases in about two weeks.

But applicants with criminal or immigration records that indicate that they may not be eligible for a TWIC may still experience a two-and-a-half month wait before receiving the credential or notification from TSA, according to a recent update on the website.

For many mariners, TWIC is equivalent to a work permit because they can’t continue to work or begin a job without a valid credential. This is why TSA advises applicants to file their paperwork at least 10 to 12 weeks prior to when the card will be required to avoid inconvenience or interruption in access to maritime facilities.

I wonder whether the new citizenship requirement will make the TWIC more recognizable at airport security. We have heard stories about TWICs being rejected by TSA agents as a proof of identification, with agents saying they are unaware of the credential’s significance. Let’s hope that this will stop once mariners must also prove citizenship.

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.