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January 4, 2007 11:15 AM, EST

DHS Issues ‘TWIC’ Credentialing Rule for Port Workers

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The Department of Homeland Security Wednesday issued its final rule under its Transportation Worker Identification Credential program for port security.Under the program, workers’ backgrounds are checked before they are granted access to secure areas of ships and maritime facilities.The rule was posted on the Transportation Security Administration’s Web site Jan. 1 and will be posted on the Federal Register for posting in the coming days, said TSA, which is part of DHS.TWIC enrollment will begin in March, initially at a small number of ports. The program is expected to impact more than 750,000 port employees, longshoreman, mariners, truckers and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels.Some of the program’s details include: Cost: The fee for a TWIC card will be $139 to $159, and cards will be valid for 5 years. Workers with current, comparable background checks including hazmat endorsements to a commercial driver’s license, merchant mariner document or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card will pay a discounted fee of $107 to $127. Background checks of affected workers: Those lacking lawful presence and certain immigration status in the United States, connected to terrorist activity, or convicted of certain crimes will be ineligible for a TWIC. Technology: The credential will be a “smart card” containing the applicant’s photo and other data, and chip will store the holder’s fingerprint template and a personal identification number chosen by the individual.