A TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) card is essential for owner-operators needing access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA). The TWIC card ensures that only vetted individuals can access sensitive zones at ports, enhancing overall safety and security.

Who Needs a TWIC Card?

Owner-operators involved in transporting goods to and from maritime facilities require a TWIC card to enter restricted areas. This applies to individuals transporting containers, bulk goods, or other freight that moves through U.S. ports.

Application Process

The application process for a TWIC card is straightforward but thorough. Applicants submit an online form through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, requiring personal details, employment history, and other pertinent information. A background check is conducted, considering criminal history, citizenship status, and other security risk factors. Once approved, applicants receive the card by mail within a few weeks.

Validity and Renewal

A TWIC card is valid for five years. Renewal requires a fresh application and background check, similar to the initial process. It’s advisable to start the renewal process a few months before the card’s expiration to ensure continuous access to secure areas.

Benefits of Having a TWIC Card

  1. Secure Access: Enables owner-operators to enter secure areas quickly without delays.
  2. Compliance: Meets federal regulations, avoiding legal issues.
  3. Increased Work Opportunities: Allows operators to take on jobs that require access to ports, broadening their client base.


As of 2023, the TWIC card application fee is $125.25. Fee reductions are available for applicants who possess certain other credentials.

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity (e.g., passport, driver’s license)
  • Proof of citizenship or lawful presence
  • Completed online application form

Interview and Fingerprinting

Applicants visit an enrollment center for an interview, where fingerprints and photographs are taken. This visit also includes an identity verification step.

Security Features

The TWIC card has several built-in security features. It includes a photograph, biometric data, and integrated circuits to provide a layered security approach, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Lost or Stolen Cards

If a TWIC card is lost or stolen, immediate reporting to the TSA is crucial. Replacements can be obtained, involving a similar process to the initial application but often faster.