TWIC enrollment: quick and painless

by Tim Flanagan on June 17, 2009

As I have mentioned recently, more about my current career priority is to accumulate “sea time”. To maximize my opportunities in that regard, I’m obtaining an entry-level Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). And to do THAT, I need a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

Today, I completed the enrollment process for the TWIC.


They seem to have worked the bugs out of the TWIC enrollment process. Maybe I was just lucky, but it all seemed pretty simple to me.

First, you go online to “pre-enroll”.  To do that, though, you have to register on the website for an account. It’s pretty straightforward, though.

Once you’ve registered for your account, you log in to the pre-enrollment site and start the process. This is handy, actually, because instead of filling out forms by hand, that some TSA functionary will later key in manually, you enter your information directly. It saves effort and reduces error, plus you can do it from home while you watch Deadliest Catch.

Once you’ve filled in all the personal information, you can schedule an appointment. I LOVE this! You do it right on the website, which displays a calendar with 15-minute time slots displayed. Select an available slot and click on it. Then print out the pre-enrollment receipt, which has a barcode on it.

This pre-enrollment + appointment + barcoded receipt system is well-designed, in my opinion. It ought to reduce errors, speed up the process, and minimize the potential for huge lines at the enrollment center by distributing applicant arrival times evenly throughout the day.

Second, gather together the documents you need.

Applicants are required to bring identity documents to the enrollment center.

Click here to access the latest listing of acceptable documents, which include those documents required to prove immigration status for applicants not born in the U.S.

In my case, though, this was trivial, since I possess an unexpired U.S. passport.

Third, show up for your appointment. Ah, the “acid test“. Does the online appointment scheme work? How long is the line? When you arrive, can they access your data quickly using the barcoded receipt?

It appeared to me that it all worked just as I had hoped it would. I walked in, and there were about three other applicants present. I was asked if I were there to “apply or pick up”, and when I said “apply”, I was asked to take a seat at a table. OK, here we go; the waiting starts now.

Except that thirty seconds later, I was summoned to a desk, where I presented my pre-enrollment receipt, my passport, and my credit card. They processed the payment ($132.50), and I was handed one form to complete by hand, and I returned to my seat at the table.

The form is a kind of “Do you understand this? Have you ever been convicted of that?” laundry list. You have to read the questions carefully, because you want to make sure you say “yes” and “no” in all the right places.

Less than five minutes later, virtually at the moment I signed the form, a new person approached and asked if I were done. I handed her the form, and she led me into another room with a computer, a camera, and a fancy digital fingerprint scanner. No yucky black ink! No scrubbing your hands for five minutes afterward! No fingerprint-taker-arm-wrestling to roll your fingers across the fingerprint card just the right way, because one mistake and they have to start a new card from scratch!

She asked me to confirm the information I had already entered during pre-enrollment. She took my photograph. She had me press my fingers onto the glowing green glass of the fingerprint scanner (in a specific sequence, listen and obey!).

She handed me my TWIC enrollment receipt, and told me I was done. This piece of paper is important, because it will allow me to initiate my application for a Merchant Mariner Credential. I left the TWIC enrollment center about 15 minutes after I arrived.

The final step is to return to the enrollment center and pick up your TWIC card.

Well, I haven’t done this yet, so who knows how easy that will be? But seriously, how difficult could it be? They’ll call me, I’ll drive over, walk in, and receive my TWIC card.

I’ll add an update to this post once that’s occurred, but at this point, the whole process seemed quick and painless.

Now make no mistake, I’m no fan of bureaucratic paperwork, nor of charging administrative fees to those already most inconvenienced by the regulation they find themselves subject to.

But it’s really refreshing to see a government-created process that has obviously been designed to minimize hassle and stress for everyone involved. Applying for my TWIC has been a LOT less hassle than, for example, renewing my driver’s license, and I like that.

{ 5 trackbacks }

Merchant Mariner Credential application process: Quick, nearly pain-free!
June 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm
TSA TWIC card issued within two weeks
July 2, 2009 at 9:48 am
Good to go: Merchant Mariner Credential arrives in 24 days
July 28, 2009 at 11:26 am
TWIC enrollment: not so easy for everyone
August 7, 2009 at 12:38 pm
My father-in-law’s World War II-era TWIC card
October 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John E Carpenter August 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm


2 John E Carpenter August 5, 2009 at 8:03 pm


3 R COX September 25, 2009 at 6:33 am


4 kenneth p. payton February 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I am needing this card so that , I my work in different facility ; around the state & abroad

5 leonard george mendoza jr June 9, 2010 at 6:25 am

i work with different scaffold companies along the coast and also environmental companies which require twic card

6 leonard george mendoza jr June 9, 2010 at 6:30 am

i am registering in advance on 6-9-2010 for employment along the coast and chemical plants on the ship channel area also

7 leonard george mendoza jr June 9, 2010 at 6:31 am

for employement on the coast.

8 leonard george mendoza jr June 9, 2010 at 6:34 am

i need this card for work along the coast and chemical plants on ship channel area.

9 leonard george mendoza jr June 9, 2010 at 6:36 am

i need this for employement thank you.

10 leonard george mendoza jr June 9, 2010 at 6:42 am

i need this for employement in the chemical plants along the coast.

11 Daniel T. Holden July 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

I need the TWIC card for employment as soon as I can
qualify. I’m not sure I understand the instructions
above,but I will try steps 1-10 . Need your feedback .
Thank you;
Dan T. Holden

12 Daniel T. Holden July 27, 2010 at 10:55 am

Is there a phone number I could call to ask questions ? .
Thank you;
Dan Holden

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