Agency Eases TWIC Requirements for Some When Obtaining, Renewing Mariner Credentials


February 2012


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The U.S. Coast Guard in late December announced a new policy that exempts some mariners from the requirement to obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) when renewing or obtaining a Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner credential (MMC). According to the agency, TWICs no longer will be required for mariners who aren’t actively sailing but are maintaining documents of continuity, nor will they be required for active mariners on vessels that aren’t required to have vessel security plans.


As reported at the January membership meetings, the new policy likely won’t affect many SIU members, because the vast majority of SIU-crewed vessels are required to have a vessel security plan. Also, Seafarers should note that the Coast Guard openly cautions individuals to expect potentially significant delays in the processing of credential applications submitted by non-TWIC holders.


In announcing these changes, the agency said it is acting in accordance with a component of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 that “permits the Coast Guard to exempt any mariner not requiring unescorted access to a secure area of a vessel from the requirement to hold a valid TWIC as a precondition of receiving a merchant mariner credential.”


A day later, the Coast Guard clarified that in order for them to process an MMC application, they must have received the applicant’s biographical information from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), issuer of the TWIC. The upshot is that for a mariner to get his or her MMC application processed, he or she must have completed the TWIC enrollment procedure at least once.


“Additionally,” the Coast Guard advised, “in order for the Coast Guard to process a credential application for a mariner who is not in possession of a valid TWIC, the mariner must submit a statement indicating an understanding of the possible delays associated with processing the safety and suitability check and certifying that they do not require a TWIC in accordance with the policy letter.”


What about mariners who are applying for an initial MMC or who never possessed a TWIC? In the applicable five-page policy letter, the Coast Guard states that those individuals still must enroll for a TWIC, in person, and must pay all applicable fees. However, they don’t have to actually go back and pick up the TWIC in order for the MMC process to continue.


The policy letter is available online, in PDF format at:


It also may be accessed by connecting to and then looking under Mariner’s Information Center, and then under Policy and Guidance. Look for document 11-15, titled “Merchant Mariner Credentials for Mariners Not Requiring a Transportation Worker Identification Credential.”



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