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April 14, 2020 12:15 PM, EDT

Federal Regulators Exempt Expired TWIC Cards Through July 31

Decision Based on COVID-19 Pandemic
TWIC readerA TWIC reader is used to verify information of individuals entering the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia. (U.S. Coast Guard)

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The Transportation Security Administration has granted a temporary exemption for the expiration of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials through July 31 for cards that expired after March 1.

The temporary exemption, announced April 14, is intended to minimize the spread of COVID-19 during the nationwide emergency.

The exemption became effective April 10.

“During this time, it is vital to move cargo expeditiously through the supply chain, and to ensure that medical supplies and home goods reach health care centers and consumers,” said the TSA announcement. “Maritime facilities and vessels are an integral part of the supply chain and must continue to operate at full capacity.”

TSA regulations require truck drivers and other transportation workers who seek unescorted access to secured areas of maritime facilities and vessels to undergo a security threat assessment conducted by the agency to receive a TWIC.

A TWIC expires five years from the date of issuance, and individuals must go to a TSA enrollment center to initiate a new security threat assessment to receive a new credential.

TWIC applicants also are required to provide proof of identity and fingerprints at approved enrollment sites, designated and operated by TSA trusted agents.

There are nearly 2.3 million active TWIC cards in circulation, TSA said. TSA records show that 234,536, or approximately 10% of the total, will expire in the next six months.

“Social distancing practices in response to the COVID-19 crisis make gathering at enrollment centers unwise or prohibited,” TSA said. Approximately one-third of TSA’s TWIC enrollment centers have been forced to close because they are collocated with commercial or government offices that are closed as a result of COVID-19. For those that are operating, the process of collecting fingerprints and completing the enrollment process “may introduce risk to enrollment center staff or TWIC applicants,” TSA said.

During the extension period, the agency said it will continue to recurrently vet exempted TWIC holders against federal terrorism and national security-related watch lists, and a Department of Homeland Security system for security threats, criminal history and immigration status checks.

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