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How to Get a TWIC Card

March 22nd, 2024

Lindsey Lane

Lindsey Lane

Lindsey started with ATS as a temp employee in June 2014 and was hired on in September 2014. While she started in the mailroom and human resources, in 2015 she moved into the administrative service assistant of driver recruiting role – the position she still holds today. She does a lot of reporting and tracking for the recruiting department and for the company as a whole. She has a hand in everything from sign-on bonus payouts and driver referrals to driver orientation. One of her favorite parts of working in this ever-changing industry is getting the chance to catch up with drivers when they come through town. As a self-proclaimed nerd, she also likes reporting and working in Excel spreadsheets.

Are you looking for a way to boost your income and diversify the type of freight you’re able to haul? 

Getting your Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card is an affordable, easy way to do just that. A TWIC card allows you to get to ports to haul freight. Each week, Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) sends our flatbed drivers at orientation to an approved office to get their TWIC card. 

Now, more than ever, it’s important to open up your opportunities to haul more freight and keep yourself moving out on the road. If you don’t have small advantages, like the TWIC card and endorsements, you may limit your opportunities. 

With the increase in trucks and the lessened demand for freight, you could be sitting around waiting for freight if you don’t open up your freight-hauling ability. 

In this article, you’ll learn the following about TWIC cards: 

  • What it is
  • What you can haul with it
  • How to get it
  • How much it costs
  • How long it lasts 
  • What a TWIC card is
  • Who can’t get a TWIC card

What is a TWIC Card? 

The Maritime Transportation Security Act requires a TWIC card for workers to access secure locations like port facilities, boats, vessels, fairies and more. The card is given out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but it’s not the same as TSA certification. You’d need to get a TSA card to access airports to deliver or pick up freight. 

The TSA won’t just allow anyone into a secure maritime port; ports are considered sensitive areas. Getting a TWIC shows the port you’ve had a security threat assessment performed and you’re authorized to be in secure U.S. facilities. 

A TWIC allows you to haul a variety of freight from ports. Without a TWIC, you can’t access these areas, nor can you haul the freight.

Some ports allow you to be escorted to these secure facilities, but this comes with a fee and you have to wait for the escort. When waiting for a port escort, you’re on their schedule. There's no telling how long you'll wait.

Some ports won't allow you to enter their facilities unless you have a TWIC card; an escort won't get you anywhere. Either you have a TWIC card or you aren’t hauling the freight. 

Ultimately, getting a TWIC card saves you time and money — especially if you frequently do business at the ports.  

If you have a passenger with you — maybe a family member or spouse — they need a TWIC card to enter as well. If they frequently ride with you, you may suggest they get a TWIC card too. Or, you may decide not to take loads at the ports when they're riding with you.

A blue truck in-between two small private planes at an airplane hangar.

How to Get a TWIC Card

Getting a TWIC card is a fairly easy process:

  • Fill out an application 
  • Provide specific documentation
  • Be fingerprinted
  • Take a photo
  • Pay a fee
  • Wait to receive the card

You can either fill out a TWIC application online or head to your nearest TWIC card office location to complete the entire process. Find an enrollment center here.

You can schedule an appointment ahead of time or you can walk in — either is fine. It's important to note that appointments will take priority, so if you're on a time crunch, it's advisable to make an appointment rather than walking in. If you haven't filled out an application already, you'll do so at the appointment. The information you include in your application will be used to run a background check on you. 

You’ll need to bring specific documentation to your appointment, like a passport, enhanced driver’s license, or permanent resident card. Learn more about which documents you can bring with you. 

You’ll have your photo taken and your fingerprinting completed before paying a fee.

How Much Does a TWIC Card Cost?

A TWIC card costs $125.25 for new applicants. 

You can get a reduced rate of $93.00 if you have a hazardous materials endorsement or a Free and Secure Trade card. 

The fee is non-refundable and can be paid via credit card, money order, check, or cashier's check. 

How Long Does it Take to Get a TWIC Card?

You may choose to have your TWIC card mailed to you or you can go back to the same TWIC card office location to pick it up. 

It can take up to several months to receive your TWIC card due to the rigorous required background check. You can check your application status here.

Once you receive approval, however, it typically only takes seven to 10 business days to receive your card in the mail.

Because this isn't a quick process, it's a good idea to apply for your TWIC card two or three months before you need it.

TWIC Card Renewal: How Long Does a TWIC Card Last?

A TWIC card is good for five years. 

The in-person renewal fee for a TWIC card is $125.25.

The online renewal fee for a TWIC card is $117.25.

If you need a replacement card for any reason, it’s $60.

Talk to your carrier to see if they'll reimburse you for the renewal expense; some will.

The renewal process is the same as when you get your first TWIC card. You'll have to fill out another application and undergo another background check. Because the process can take a while, it's advisable to give yourself plenty of time to renew the card before it expires. In other words, don't go to a TWIC card office the week before your card expires.

TWIC Card Eligibility

To get a TWIC card, you have to be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or non-immigrant alien in lawful status. 

Several things may disqualify you from getting a TWIC card, many of which will also disqualify you from getting hired at high-paying trucking companies. They include lying on your application or criminal offenses (listed below).

The TSA needs to determine that you’re a responsible citizen and don’t pose a threat to the U.S. 

You can either receive approval and determination of no security threat, initial determination of threat assessment, or initial determination of threat assessment and immediate revocation. 

If you receive approval and determination of no security threat, you meet TSA standards and will receive your TWIC card in seven to 10 business days.

If you receive initial determination of threat assessment, you don’t meet TSA standards. They’ll tell you why and give you a chance to appeal it within 60 days.

If you receive initial determination of threat assessment and immediate revocation, the TSA believes you to be a threat and you can appeal within 60 days. If you don’t, your immediate revocation will stand. 

You may be ineligible to receive a TWIC card for various reasons. They’re broken down into three parts. 

  • Part A: Permanent disqualifying offenses including treason, terrorism, murder, etc. 

  • Part B: Interim disqualifying criminal offenses like extortion, kidnapping, smuggling, and assault 

  • Part C: Under want offenses like active warrants for your arrest and indictments  

Visit the TSA website for more information about these disqualifying offenses. 

A red ATS tractor at port getting a container loaded onto the flatbed truck.

Set Yourself Apart with More Endorsements

The TWIC card process is a straightforward, simple process. Try to apply for your TWIC card several months before you’ll need it because it can take that long to get the card in the mail. Wherever you are on the road, you should be able to find a nearby enrollment center. 

Earning a TWIC card is just one way you open up your availability to haul different types of freight on the road and boost your income. Check out these other endorsements and certificates you can earn.

For other ways to boost your income, especially in a soft market, visit this article about practicing good habits on the road.