The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the US Coast Guard issued (at last) the final rule implementing Phase One of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The rule, which lays out the process for issuance and initial use of TWIC cards, comes into effect on March 26. Comments on the card replacement fee should be submitted by February 26. The requirement for facilities and OCS facilities to limit unescorted access to secure areas to persons holding valid TWIC cards will come into effect based upon notifications to be published in the Federal Register and will require compliance on a USCG Captain of the Port (COTP) Zone basis.
Persons seeking unescorted access to secure areas aboard affected vessels, as well as all USCG-credentialed merchant mariners, must possess a valid TWIC card not later than September 25, 2008.
The enrollment process will commence no sooner than March 2007 in a small number of ports, with gradual expansion nationwide. Subsequent notices will provide detailed information on enrollment sites, schedules, etc. While the TWIC will be a smart card, with encrypted biometric data, the requirement for installation and use of a card reader will be delayed for a future rulemaking (phase two). In the meantime, the TWIC card will function as a photographic identification. Since the TWIC card will not be issued until after the applicant has passed a background check, security will be enhanced, but not as much as it will be when card readers are installed and functioning. Provision has been made for new-hires to have limited access to vessels and marine facilities once their TWIC applications have been submitted. Owners and operators of certain marine facilities are provided an opportunity to redesignate portions of their facilities so that TWIC cards are not required of persons working in areas that don’t need to be secure. The fee for application for and issuance of the TWIC card will be established in a subsequent notice. Crewmembers on foreign-flag ships will not need TWIC cards, but can expect further restrictions concerning going ashore without an escort. This official version of the final rule seems
to be substantively unchanged from the unofficial version released on January 3.
Source: HK Law