TWIC card is short for Transportation Worker Identification Credential card.
The Transportation Security Administration-issued card is granted to workers who need unsupervised access to several restricted areas within a maritime facility and some specific sea vessels.
A TWIC card comes with a fingerprint template and other tamper-resistant features that help verify holders’ identity.
Port facility employees, longshore workers, truck drivers, and mariners certified by the U.S. Coast Guard are mostly holders of the TSA-issued card.
Unfortunately, felons may have a hard time obtaining a TWIC card. Since the card gives unescorted access to highly secured areas, persons with criminal histories are specially considered.
Obtaining a TWIC Card
It takes a relatively long period to obtain the identification card. The entire process – from application to pick-up – takes approximately eight weeks. Government agencies, however, recommend early application – say three months in advance – to reduce delays.
The application can be made either via Transportation Security Administration’s online platform, over the phone(at (855) 347-8371), or in-person at their application center.
We recommend you book an appointment in advance. Although the card application locations allow walk-ins, the wait time can be pretty long.
Before you begin your application, you must have well-enough documentation. Passport, drivers’ license, birth certificate, or an enhanced tribal card are required.
If you present a birth certificate, you also need to tender your driver’s license.
Remember, the name on your identity verification document must be exact with that used in your application. Where your name changes for any reason – divorce, marriage – there must be supporting documentation.
Upon verification of submitted documents, you will be required to submit your photo and capture your fingerprints.
Here, you’d be required to pay a $128 card fee. The card fee may be cut to $105.25 for FAST cards or harmful materials endorsement.
The TWIC application process requires a critical background check. For such checks, the nature of your conviction matters a whole lot.
While minor convictions may not hinder your card approval, terrorism, racketeering, transportation security offense, robbery, and treason ruin your chances.
However, on completion of these processes, you will receive an approval notification. When available, you can go for it at the application center or request mail delivery. After issuance, TWIC card remains valid for five years.
How to Renew a TWIC Card
On expiration, TWIC holders must renew their cards after expiration, every five years
On every re-application, applicants go through the same process they underwent during their first application.
Every time you apply, you’d be required to submit appropriate documentation, complete the application form, pay the applicable license fee, as well as undergo a thorough background check.
The renewal fee is payable via money order, credit card, cashier’s check, or company check.
Ensure you go through the process as required before your card becomes invalid. This helps avoid security clearance lapses.
Obtaining security clearances could project you for high-level and more prestigious jobs.
U.S citizens, naturalized citizenship, asylee, permanent residents, nonimmigrant alien, or lawful-status refugees are eligible to apply.
General ineligibility conditions include:
- Disqualifying conditions and other legal concerns
- False or incomplete application information
At the Enrolment Center
Get your identity verification documents. You are required to present, at least, one identification document. The documents are required to verify one’s identity, immigration, and citizen status.
Owners of either of green card, passport, Global Entry car, or a FAST Card, need to present just one document.
However, If you have none of these documents, you may need a military ID card, a driver’s license, or related credible photo ID. A naturalization certificate or birth certificate should suffice.
Interestingly, your FAST card and commercial driver’s license offers you a TWIC at a discounted rate.
Read also: Can a Felon Get a Guard Card?
Crimes That Hinder One’s Eligibility
Certain criminal records on your background check report could make one TWIC-ineligible. Talking TWIC, crimes are grouped into two classes:
- Permanent Disqualifying Offenses – these crimes may disqualify a person from TWIC application for life.
- Interim Disqualifying Offenses – for these crimes, applicants are allowed to request a waiver.
Examples of Permanent Disqualifying crimes include:
- Crimes related to the use of explosives
- Sedition, Espionage, or treason – or conspiracy to commit either.
- Improper transportation of hazardous substances
- Terrorism or conspiracy to commit conspiracy.
- Offenses involving information falsification or threats related to fixing explosives in public transportation and related public places.
Interim Disqualifying Offenses include:
- Immigration-related cases
- Crimes associated with unlawful transportation or use of firearms
- Dishonesty, money laundering, extortion, identify theft, fraud and related crimes
- Fraudulent access of entry into a seaport
- Offenses related to the distribution of regulated substances
- Rape, robbery, assault aimed to kill, severe sexual abuse and related violent crimes.
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of the crimes above
Expunged crimes do not show up during the TWIC card application. However, persons with pending charges or on probation are not eligible for a TWIC card.
Appealing a Rejection
Confirm your eligibility for an appeal
A failed background check is the key reason for application denial. Regardless of your past charges or conviction, you can request an appeal and may still get the TWIC card.
Here are some eligibility requirements:
- Persons charged for a crime but not convicted
- Persons convicted for a misdemeanor –not felony
- A person convicted of drug possession
- Persons with no pending indictments or warrants
- Your conviction for smuggling, assault, extortion, and kidnapping happened over seven years back, and you have not been incarcerated within the past five years. Persons with a felony that occurred in the last seven years must appeal for a waiver.
Get relevant documents about your conviction or charge
You must obtain the necessary documentation from either the police, district attorney or court.
The document must prove that you were not guilty, the charges were dismissed, or that your offense was not a felony but a misdemeanor.
If your felony conviction dates back over seven years, contact your local court where the sentence was given and request for a duplicate of documents that show your conviction date.
If you did time, visit the jail or prison and obtain documents that show your release date was over five years.
Complete the Request Cover Sheet
You’d find the form attached to the letter you got from the TSA. State, on the form, why you think you didn’t deserve a rejection.
After completion, duplicate the form and other documents for delivery to the TSA.
If your felony conviction happened within the last 7 years, request a waiver.
All hope isn’t lost yet. Here, you may need to tender some more documentation with your request. You’d likely get a waiver if relevant documentation is presented. Such documents may include:
- A document from jail or prison that verifies your date of release
- A personal statement that explains your offense, port-related employment history, as well as personal growth after release.
- Letters of support: one from your employer or supervisor, one from your parole officer, and two or more from family or/and friends.
- Evidence that you participated in counseling, anger management training, drug rehabilitation courses, and related training since your release. Certifications from these courses and letters of recommendation from the counselor will come handy.
Send the form and all necessary documentations
Send, by mail, all relevant paperwork to the TSA. You have 60 days from the date on the letter to deliver your documents.
After mailing, demand a confirmation receipt from the post office. The receipt will serve as proof that you delivered the document and within an acceptable timeframe.
After receiving the documents, TSA usually decides to grant or reject within 60 days. TSA will, however, notify you of the acceptance or rejection of your appeal.
Record expungement offers persons with a record an opportunity to clear off their felony. This legal move significantly increases one’s chances of getting a TWIC card.
Crime expungement allows an ex-offender state – boldly and truthfully – that they have never had a conviction all their life.
That said, certain expungement does not qualify one for a TWIC card.
According to TSA rules, convictions are considered expunged only when it is dropped off one’s record and without any legal restrictions or disabilities, except that it can be referred to in the future when the offender commits a similar or more severe crime.
A Call for Honesty
When completing a TWIC form, be as honest as much as possible. Nondisclosed felony spotted on a background check report is regarded as fraudulent and punishable. Such deception could send an applicant back to jail.
While falsifying information may seem smart, it will most likely ruin your application.
In fact, one secret to success is honesty about your criminal past. Any slight stroke of dishonesty triggers a negative perception of the applicant.
The FAQ on if Felons Can Get a TWIC Card
Do I need a TWIC Card?
If your job routine requires a TWIC card, it should be clearly spelled out during hiring. For positions that require a visit to government maritime facilities, like government boats and ports, a TWIC card might be a key employment condition.
What if I misplaced my card?
If your card, for whatever reason, gets stolen, fill out a replacement form online. During this process, you may be asked to show up at an application center. Card replacement costs 60 USD.
You can either request for a TWIC card replacement online or over the phone at (855)-347-8371.
How is the TWIC used?
Workers are required to present their cards to the relevant authorities. The security personnel confirms the identity of the cardholder, check on some security components on the card, and critically assess the card to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with.
During facility and vessel inspections, the Coast Guards verify the cards with handheld scanners and doublecheck to confirm the validity of credentials.
I lost my TWIC. How can I gain access to a facility during a replacement wait?
The United States Coast Guard grants employees who meet some stated requirements continued access to sensitive areas while they wait for their ordered replacement card.
You may need to tender a receipt that confirms your request for a replacement card.
I was denied a TWIC card. What next?
Contact 1(844)-516-TWIC (8942) and discuss your concerns. They will assist you in filing a waiver or appeal, which may offer help you get a TWIC card even with a felony record.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
Considering the importance of a TWIC particularly for maritime-related jobs, you may need some professional legal assistance to get it right. If you require TWIC application assistance, you may search for an experienced criminal lawyer near you.
A seasoned attorney, we assume, has handled similar cases and knows better how to handle the process even with your criminal history.
Besides, if you wish to seek an appeal or a waiver your attorney will help you navigate through the process seamlessly.
Getting a TWIC card can be somewhat challenging, particularly for felons. However, it is worth it if it turns out successful.
To increase your chances, you may need to petition for felony expungement and, as well, document additional education and training courses.
These are nice steps in demonstrating a positive character, which in turn, increases your chances of a TWIC issuance.
Support from friends, family, and former employers can help a great deal. Indeed, one’s felony should be left in the past and not determine their future.
Most felons made mistakes that landed them in prison. Thankfully, many are fully rehabilitated and are ready to start all over.
Instead of defining one with their past mistakes, let’s emphasize on how much they have recovered.
Do you have a friend or family struggling to get a TWIC with a felony? Play your part and encourage them.
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.