As an owner-operator, there is a long list of documents you need to fulfill to start delivering loads. Aside from your commercial driver’s license, you may also need to secure a TWIC card. But what is a TWIC card, and who needs one?
In this post, we discuss what this card is, who is eligible, and how you can get one for your trucking business.
What does TWIC stand for?
Before issuing this card, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct a ‘ security threat assessment’ of the applicant. It’s an in-depth background check to certify that you’re of sound legal standing.
Moreover, this card is intended to protect U.S.-owned ports against any terrorist or illegal activities. It also streamlines access for various industries, including trucking.
But what is a TWIC card used for? The TWIC card allows drivers to access maritime facilities like warehouses, vessels, customs offices, etc. It expedites the driver’s access to these facilities, positively impacting their speed in delivering loads.
Without a TWIC card, truck drivers will need to hire an escort to access the port facilities. On average, port escorts charge $50 for a minimum of two hours and an additional $25 for each hour thereafter.
Do truck drivers need a TWIC card?
Truck drivers aren’t required to possess a TWIC card. However, if you transport loads in secured ports, you must secure this identification.
Technically, you have the option not to get a TWIC card. But it also means you won’t have direct access to port facilities, and you’ll pay for an escort every time. It’s a hassle and an additional expense for your trucking business.
Also, having a valid TWIC card will guarantee smooth access to U.S. ports when loading or unloading freight.
This is specifically a requirement for truckers delivering cargo at ports and other facilities regulated under the MTSA.
If you transport hazardous materials (hazmat), it’s crucial to have this card ready at all times.
If you’re just transporting loads on public roads and not entering U.S. ports, you can go by without a TWIC card. However, you’ll never know when you’ll get a high-paying load that needs this access.
With this, wise truckers and owner-operators would secure this card to prevent any hiccups.
Benefits of having a TWIC card
TWIC card for trucking will give you several benefits, especially if you’re expanding your business.
Here are some of the perks you’ll enjoy if you have this card:
More freight opportunities
A TWIC card serves as your ticket to more clients who need to transport their shipments to and from U.S. ports.
In 2020, waterborne shipping carried nearly 1.5 billion short tons of freight, more than any mode of transportation in the U.S. had in the same year. This proves that ports are teeming with potential clients for your trucking business.
All you have to do is secure your TWIC card to start exploring these opportunities.
Areas requiring TWIC card access give you the peace of mind that your truck is safe and secure. This includes seaports, terminals, transportation facilities, and more that you can’t access without a TWIC card.
Hiring an escort in port areas is time-consuming and will slow down your trucking operations. In comparison, TWIC cards will save you from long waiting times at port facilities. Remember that time is of the essence when you’re in the trucking industry.
Aside from that, a TWIC card might be the only thing standing between you and a high-paying client.
How to get a TWIC card?
Applying for a TWIC card is fairly straightforward. Here are the steps for the application process:
Step .1 Register online.
Truckers can book an appointment using the online TWIC application form or by visiting a local application center.
The TSA accommodates walk-in applicants, but those with appointments will be given priority.
Take note that TWIC cards are only issued to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, naturalized American citizens, asylees, or refugees in lawful status.
Step 2. Submit the requirements
Before you go to your appointment at a TWIC application center, make sure that you bring the necessary documentation.
Prepare all the needed requirements before your appointment to avoid delays.
Also, remember that the state DMV does not issue TWIC cards. If you wish to secure this card, you need to apply directly to the TSA.
Step 3. Pay the application fee
New applicants need to pay $125.25 for their TWIC cards. There’s a reduced rate of $93 for new applicants if they present a hazardous materials endorsement together with their valid commercial driver’s license. A Free and Secure Trade card will also work in place of the endorsement.
For replacement cards, the fee is $60. Renewals cost the same as a new card in person, but the fee is reduced to $117.25 when requested online.
How long before I can get my TWIC card?
It will take at least 10 days for most applicants to receive their TWIC cards. This turnaround time is only possible if you don’t have any disqualifying factors.
Due to potential disqualification factors and delivery issues, the TSA recommends applying at least 60 days in advance.
Take note that your TWIC card application could get delayed if you have criminal history records, immigration issues, and other legal matters that need to be confirmed. To know if your application has problems, you can check your application status on the TSA website.
Either way, you’ll receive your TWIC card through the mail or by picking it up at the enrolment center where you applied. All TWIC cards are valid for five years upon their issuance.
If you haven’t received your TWIC card after 60 days from your application, you should report it to the TSA. Take note that failure to report non-receipt within 60 days will cost you $60 for the replacement card.
Common questions about TWIC cards
A: Lost or stolen TWIC cards should be reported to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). After that, you can secure a replacement for a $60 fee.
A: You’ll receive a written letter from the TSA if you fail their background check in relation to your TWIC card application. Don’t worry because you can request a review to have your application revisited. You can even go as far as ordering a hearing to contest the TSA’s decision.
A: No, the TWIC card is not transferable because it’s tied to the identity of the person who applied for it. Nevertheless, you can always use your TWIC card for another job that requires access to secure MTSA facilities.
A: No, you don’t have to renew your TWIC card if you switched employment. As long as the TWIC card is within its 5-year validity, you can continue using it to access MTSA and coast guard facilities. It’s because TWIC cards aren’t linked to a specific employer, only to the person who applied for it.
A: It’s advisable to renew your TWIC card at least six months before it expires. This way, you have ample time in case of delivery issues or application problems. As mentioned, TWIC cards may take up to 60 days to arrive, so it’s best to have a leeway before your card expires.
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As former truckers ourselves, we know the challenges you may face. From delayed invoices, lack of high-paying loads, or messy accounting- we’ve been there before.
The good news is that we’re here to help to ensure that your trucking business is set for success. We are a team of accountants, tax preparers, invoice collectors, and dispatchers ready to grow your business.
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