Does your job require you to visit secure port facilities, vessels, or offshore platforms in the course of an investigation or for another business reason? Do your employees (including truck drivers, mechanics or other workers) have a need to access these facilities to carry out their jobs? If so, you need to know about TWICs – otherwise, you may find yourself or your employees unable to enter such facilities.
What is a TWIC?
A TWIC card is an identification credential needed by all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)- regulated facilities and vessels, and all mariners holding Coast Guard-issued credentials. Individuals who meet TWIC eligibility requirements will be issued a tamperresistant credential containing the worker's biometric (fingerprint template) to allow for a positive link between the card and the individual.
Who needs a TWIC?
All Coast Guard-credentialed merchant mariners, port facility employees, longshore workers, truck drivers and others requiring unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels regulated by MTSA will need a TWIC. Secure areas have been designated to meet specific security measures in accordance with a Coast Guard-approved security plan and are specific to vessel and facility security plans at each port.
Credentialed U.S. merchant mariners who must obtain a TWIC include all persons holding a Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner's license, merchant mariner's document (MMD), Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV), Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Certificate, or certificate of registry (COR). With the implementation of TWIC, the Coast Guard MMD would primarily serve as proof of professional qualifications.
What is an MTSA-Regulated facility?
An MTSA-Regulated facility is one that:
- Handles designated dangerous cargoes;
- Receives vessels certificated to carry more than 150 passengers and embarks/ disembarks these passengers;
- Receives vessels applicable to SOLAS;
- Receives foreign cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons; or
- Receives U.S. cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons, unless the facility receives only commercial fishing vessels which are inspected under 46 CFR, Part 105.
In addition, certain Outer Continental Shelf Facilities fall under the MTSA, including any fixed or floating facility, including Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), operating on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the United States for the purposes of engaging in the exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas or mineral resources that meet the following operating conditions:
- Hosts more than 150 persons for 12 hours or more in each 24-hour period continuously for 30 days or more;
- Produces greater than 100,000 barrels of oil per day; or
- Produces greater than 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
What is an MTSA-Regulated vessel?
MTSA-Regulated vessels include:
- Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), cargo, or passenger vessels subject to SOLAS;
- Foreign cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons;
- Self-propelled U.S. cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons, except certain commercial fishing vessels;
- Passenger vessels certificated to carry more than 150 passengers;
- Other passenger vessels carrying more than 12 passengers, including at least one passenger-for-hire, that is engaged on an international voyage;
- Barges and tankships subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapters D or O;
- Barges carrying certain dangerous cargo in bulk or barge that is subject to 46 CFR Chapter I, subchapter I, that is engaged on an international voyage; and
Towing vessels greater than eight meters in registered length that are engaged in towing a barge or barges regulated by the MTSA, except a towing vessel that (i) temporarily assists another vessel engaged in towing a barge or barges subject to this part; (ii) shifts a barge or barges subject to this part at a facility or within a fleeting facility; (iii) assists sections of a tow through a lock; or (iv) provides emergency assistance.
How do you obtain a TWIC?
Persons needing a TWIC must fill out an application, submit approved identification documents, and pay a fee. All information about the TWIC Program, including the enrollment process, can be found at the web site: www.tsa.gov/twic and through the TWIC help desk (1-866-DHS-TWIC). These resources enable applicants to pre-enroll, schedule appointments for both enrollment and activation, locate a convenient enrollment center, and access comprehensive frequently asked questions – all at no additional cost, with minimal effort and time. The fee for the TWIC is $132.50 and it is valid for five years.
Will persons needing a TWIC be notified?
Facility and vessel owners/operators are required to notify employees of their responsibility to possess a TWIC based on their need to have unescorted access to secure areas of vessels and facilities. Notification should be provided in a timely manner to give individuals sufficient time to complete the entire enrollment process by the compliance date.
Owners/operators are encouraged to provide this same information to personnel who are not facility or vessel employees (e.g. contractors, truck drivers). Coast Guard Captains of the Port will also be working with the local Area Maritime Security Committees to inform individuals of TWIC requirements and compliance dates.
Contractors (or individuals who are not direct employees of a port owner or operator, but rather are 'contract' employees) can apply for a TWIC as long as they meet the TWIC eligibility requirements and, at a minimum, are expecting to pursue contracts at MTSA-regulated vessels and facilities where the owners or operators have determined a need for unescorted access in secure areas.
When will the TWIC be required for access to MTSA-regulated vessels and facilities?
Most deadline have passed. A final April 14, 2009, deadline remains for Guam, Houston/Galveston, Los Angeles/Long Beach, San Juan and Port Arthur.
All workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels and all U.S. credentialed mariners must enroll for a TWIC no later than April 15, 2009. Workers will be required to possess and facilities will be required to check for a TWIC on a gradual basis, by Captain of the Port zone (COTP). The compliance date for each COTP zone will be published via notice in the Federal Register 90 days prior to the compliance date.