By Jami Jones
Transportation workers at the nation’s ports need to be ready to fork over some serious change starting in March for their Transportation Worker Identification Credential – even if they already have a hazardous materials endorsement background check to their credit.
The Department of Homeland Security unveiled the final rule outlining the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program – dubbed the TWIC program – Jan. 1. The program is designed to enhance port security by checking the backgrounds of workers before they are granted unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and ships.
Truckers who already face numerous, redundant, expensive background checks won’t be getting much of a break at all in the cost for applying for a TWIC card.
The credential and background check will cost applicants between $139 and $159. For truckers who have a comparable background check, such as the hazmat endorsement background check, the credential will be discounted only slightly to somewhere between $107 and $127.
“The exact amount of the fee will be established and published once an enrollment support contract is finalized in early 2007,” a government press release stated.
The background checks will be required of more than 750,000 port employees, longshoremen, mariners, truckers and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of the ports.
TWIC applicants will undergo a comprehensive background check that looks at criminal history records, terrorist watch lists, immigration status and outstanding wants and warrants.
The final rule outlines disqualifying crimes, the enrollment process, usage procedures, fees and other requirements, according to the press release from the Department of Homeland Security.
TWIC enrollment will begin in March, initially at a small number of ports. The program will be phased in nationally throughout the year.
Workers will be notified of when and where to apply before the start of the enrollment period in their given area.