TSA grants exemption for expired TWIC cards

April 14, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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A temporary exemption regarding the expiration of certain Transportation Worker Identification Credentials has been granted, the Transportation Security Administration has announced.

TSA’s notice of temporary exemption is set to publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday, April 15. TWIC cards that expired on or after March 1 will be extended for 180 days. According to TSA, the exemption became effective on April 10 and will remain in effect through July 31, unless otherwise modified.

The decision is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to about one-third of TSA’s TWIC enrollment centers being closed.

“For those that are operating, the process of collecting fingerprints, which is required for TWIC and completing the enrollment process may introduce risk to enrollment center staff or TWIC applicants,” the notice stated.

OOIDA advocacy

Doug Morris, OOIDA’s director of safety and security operations, has been working closely with the TSA to get the extension.

“It was one more thing drivers didn’t need to worry about in the middle of the coronavirus emergency declaration,” Morris said. “We’re really happy that TSA realized that this was a commonsense move and extended the deadline.”

Morris said the logistics of renewing TWIC cards are hard enough under normal circumstances. With all the statewide stay-at-home orders limiting crowd sizes and closing businesses, Morris said that challenge to get a renewal was going to be exponentially worse.

Background

In 2007, TSA published a final rule establishing requirements for merchant mariners and workers who need unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities to have a TWIC. TSA said there are nearly 2.3 million active TWIC cards in circulation and about 234,000 of them are set to expire in six months.

“TSA has determined that it is in the public interest to grant an exemption from the current expiration standard, which is five years from the date of issuance, given the need for transportation workers to continue to work without interruption during the current COVID-19 crisis,” the notice states. “This exemption will allow TWIC holders to continue to provide vital services during the COVID-19 crisis, while TSA ensures effective transportation security vetting.”

The agency said there will not be an increased security risk because the extension applies only to relatively small percentage of TWIC holders who have already successfully completed a security threat assessment. In addition, TSA will continue to “recurrently vet these TWIC holders against federal terrorism and national security-related watch lists.”

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.