As of today, April 15, anyone entering the secure area of a maritime port must now possess a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) or be escorted by someone who does.

The TWIC is a biometric security credential required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. The card is issued by the Transportation Security Administration and enforced in the ports by the Coast Guard. Drivers can pre-enroll for a TWIC online at and schedule an appointment at an enrollment center to submit their fingerprints for the background check tied to the card. Cards take four to six weeks to process.

The American Trucking Associations reports that at the association's urging, the Coast Guard has extended its Policy Advisory Council Decision 04-09, which allows a driver who holds a Hazardous Materials Endorsement on his or her CDL or a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card to enter secure port areas for 30 days after applying for a TWIC.

To take advantage of this alternate compliance, a driver must present his/her HME (hazmat endorsement) or FAST card, as well as proof of application for a TWIC. Proof of application can be either the driver's TWIC application number (the number used to check the status of the TWIC card online) or a receipt from the enrollment center where the driver applied for a TWIC. This alternate compliance is available through May 29.

One port that says TWIC implementation has been smooth is the Port of Tacoma, where the TWIC card became mandatory Feb. 28.

Following the initial TWIC registration effort in November 2007, the Port of Tacoma and its terminal operator customers began a comprehensive outreach program to vendors, labor, transportation providers and Port staff to raise awareness of the new requirement. Port staff, for example, met with companies and worker groups, distributed fliers to truckers and vendors, set up electronic road signage, detailed new requirements on the Port website, and much more.

As of April 3, total TWIC enrollments in the Tacoma area numbered 12,170 with 10,193 activations. The Port and terminal operators are now focused on helping remaining uncredentialed workers get their TWIC and establishing firm escort policies at each terminal.