The following news release was issued by the Coast Guard on May 4, 2021. The entire Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) is available here, but the excerpt below pertains to Merchant Mariner Credentials.
Merchant Mariners Credentials
The Coast Guard is providing flexibility with regard to requirements to have a TWIC when applying for a credential or when serving under the authority of a credential. To date, the processing of submitted TWIC enrollments has not been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and there is no delay in vetting, card production, and issuance. However, TSA and the Coast Guard recognize that this is an evolving public health situation and enrollment centers closures or processing delays will impact applicants for a merchant mariner credential (see below for more on TSA enrollment centers).
Under the 46 CFR 10.203(b), failure to hold a valid TWIC may serve as grounds for suspension or revocation of a merchant mariner credential (MMC). The Coast Guard will not pursue any suspension and revocation actions based on expired TWIC’s during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coast Guard will update industry prior to reinstating enforcement of this requirement. This enforcement discretion for expired TWICs does not apply to cases where a mariner’s TWIC has been suspended or revoked due to a determination that they are a security threat. In those cases,
the Coast Guard may pursue suspension or revocation of the MMC.
With respect to expired TWICs in the MMC application process, mariners applying for an original credential will be treated differently than mariners seeking a renewal, raise of grade or new endorsement. This is because the TSA provides the Coast Guard with biometric and biographic information (including the photograph) necessary to evaluate and produce a MMC.
Mariners applying for an original credential need to demonstrate that they have enrolled for a TWIC. Mariners may pre-enroll for a TWIC online, can schedule an appointment, but must complete the in-person enrollment process at the nearest TSA enrollment center. While this proof of application is sufficient to begin the merchant mariner credentialing process, an applicant for an original credential will be unable to obtain a MMC until their biographic and biometric information is provided to the Coast Guard by TSA.
For mariners already holding a MMC, if their TWIC expires, and their credential remains valid, then no action needs to be taken and the credential remains valid.
If a mariner applies for a renewal, raise of grade, new endorsement or duplicate merchant mariner credential while their TWIC is expired, they may apply without a valid TWIC if they demonstrate that they have enrolled for a TWIC renewal.
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