TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential.  It is a type of ID card issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for workers who require unescorted access to different secure areas of maritime facilities and certain sea vessels.  The card has tamper-resistant features such as a fingerprint template used for identifying the holder.

Persons who must be issued a TWIC card include: truck drivers, long shore employees, port facility workers, and any mariner who is credentialed by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Having a criminal record can negatively affect a person’s eligibility for a TWIC card, since they are issued to persons who will be accessing secured areas without an escort. 

What Crimes May Make a Person Ineligible for a TWIC Card?

Having certain criminal convictions on one’s record can make them ineligible for a TWIC card.  For TWIC purposes, there are two categories of crimes:  “Permanent Disqualifying Offenses”, which would permanently disqualify a person from applying; and “Interim Disqualifying Offenses”, in which the applicant can apply for a waiver for the crimes involved.

Permanent Disqualifying Offenses include:

  • Espionage, sedition, or treason
  • Conspiracy to commit espionage, sedition, or treason
  • A “crime of terrorism” as defined by federal or state law, or conspiracy to commit a crime of terrorism
  • Crimes involving a “transportation security incident”
  • Improperly transporting hazardous materials
  • Crimes involving explosives or explosive devices
  • Murder
  • Crimes involving threats or false information regarding the placement of an explosive in a public place or public transportation system
  • Violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Interim Disqualifying Offenses include:

  • Crimes involving the unlawful uses or transportation of firearms
  • Crimes involving extortion, dishonesty, fraud, money laundering, and identity theft
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration-related offenses
  • Crimes involving the distribution of controlled substances (or possession with the intent to distribute)
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Certain violent crimes such as rape, aggravated sexual abuse, assault with the intent to kill, and robbery
  • Fraudulent entry or access into a seaport
  • Attempt or conspiracy to commit the crimes listed

If a crime has been expunged, it will usually not appear in the TWIC application process. However, being on probation for a crime, or having a pending charge may make a person automatically ineligible.

Are Waivers or Appeals Available for Persons Convicted of a Crime?

Waivers are not available for Permanently Disqualifying Offenses involving espionage, sedition, treason, or terrorism.  Waivers may be obtained for the remaining types of crimes, subject to review and approval.   

Finally, in the event that an application is denied on criminal grounds, the applicant can usually file an appeal with the review board.  Both waivers and appeals require a complex determination of the circumstances surrounding the applicant.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Issues With TWIC Cards and Crimes?

A TWIC card is an important part of many maritime-related jobs.  If you need assistance with a TWIC application, you may wish to consult with a criminal lawyer in your area.  Your attorney can review the application with you in light of any criminal history you may have.  Also, if you need to apply for a waiver or an appeal, your lawyer can assist you throughout the process.