A common question I get is, “Is the TWIC still required?” The answer is YES, it is still a requirement for the original issue of a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). A TWIC is not required for a renewal of an OUPV or Master less than 100 GRT, but it is still required for the original issue of these endorsements.
When an applicant enrolls for a TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Credential) they have their digital fingerprints and digital picture taken. This digital information is forwarded to the FBI to pull their background information. TSA uses this information to insure that the applicant does not have any terrorist connections. When applying for the TWIC the mariner must check the box on the TWIC form that says “Merchant Mariner”. This allows TSA to release the FBI background check to the USCG. The Coast Guard uses this background information to check the applicants criminal background as required for the original issue or renewal of an MMC.
The purpose of the TWIC is to provide an identification credential that allows for unescorted access on vessels with security plans or through a secure port facility. Small inspected and uninspected passenger vessels do not have a security plan, so the TWIC is not required for these vessels. The MMC application form 719B has a box that mariners holding an OUPV or Master 100 ton endorsement may check to renew these endorsements without renewing or updating their TWIC information. The Coast Guard will then request a name background check from the FBI to make the required criminal background assessment. Because the name background check requires considerable more time to complete than the digital background check, renewing your MMC without renewing your TWIC may delay your renewal application by several months.