TWIC deadline for Florida -- and the U.S. -- looms

Published 13 November 2008

Florida port workers have until 13 January 2009 to pay the $132 and register for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential card; entry to all U.S. ports will require the TWIC card as of 15 April 2009

Port and marina workers in the Florida Keys have two months to obtain their federal identification card, according to the latest information available from DHS. The compliance date for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) is listed as 13 January 2009, for port and transportation workers at the Key West port.

KeysNet’s Kevin Wadlow writes that the TWIC card will be required of everyone holding U.S. Coast Guard-issued mariners credentials (including common captain’s licenses), and people who need unescorted access to secured ports. For example, captains and crewmen from all 36 Key West fishing charterboats will be required to pay the $132.50 cost of the card, which includes a background check.

As of 15 April 2009, all mariners, port workers, and truckers entering U.S. ports will be required to have the biometric card. Nationally, an estimated 1.2 million people will need a TWIC card — a photograph identification that includes a thumbprint, the biometric information. An original nationwide deadline of 25 September 2008 was abandoned by the DHS when it became apparent the card processing and manufacture would take longer than expected.

Congress passed the law requiring the TWIC as part of national security protections in January 2007. “We cannot, and must not, continue with business as usual in the area of mariner credentialing,” Coast Guard official Calvin Lederer testified before Congress in 2005. “The government is trying to secure our ports. With the terrorism and everything that’s gone on, I don’t think the cards are a bad idea,” said Bob Jones, executive director of the Southeastern Fisheries Association, a commercial fishing group based in Tallahassee. “If you’re going to be working in a port, they flat need to know who you are,” said Jones, who has met with DHS staff on the identification requirements.