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TSA makes TWIC renewal easier for some

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Workers with expiring Transportation Worker Identification Credentials can renew their cards for only $60 and with only one trip to an enrollment center, the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard announced June 15.

The two agencies also say the Coast Guard is at work on a notice of proposed rulemaking to be released by the end of 2012 that will propose certain vessels and port facilities install electronic TWIC readers. Lack of the electronic readers means the cards--which usually cost about $130 to obtain--have been typically used as an expensive flash pass in maritime work areas despite the card's chip with a holder's biographic and biometric data on it. In March, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft said rolling out readers will likely require 2 years.

House Republicans say the TWIC program has cost nearly $500 million so far; TSA began issuing the credentials in the fall of 2007.

According to an FAQ (.pdf) put out by the TSA, workers whose existing TWIC expires on or before Dec. 31, 2014 are eligible for the simpler renewal of their credential, which requires one fewer trip to an enrollment center and costs about $70 less than otherwise. The credentials issued under the easier terms will only last for 3 years, however, rather than the normal five. The offer for an "Extended Expiration Date TWIC" is good only for U.S. citizens or nationals (that latter primarily being American Samoans and Swains Islanders, TSA says).

According to TSA, the agency has enrolled more than 2.1 million individuals into the TWIC program and approximately 1.9 million TWIC cards have been activated.

In a statement, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee said the measure does not fully address TWIC renewal concerns but that he is nonetheless "pleased that the Administration listened to my concerns about the impending TWIC renewal problem."

Thompson and other Democratic members of the committee have called on TSA to forego the TWIC renewal requirement.

For more:
- download the TSA FAQ on the EED TWIC (.pdf)
- download a TSA policy bulletin on the EED TWIC (.pdf)

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