TWIC enrollment deadline drawing near for ports of St. Petersburg, Tampa and Manatee

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard urges maritime workers who have not yet applied for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) to apply as soon as possible before unescorted access to regulated waterfront terminals in West Florida, including the ports of St. Petersburg, Tampa and Manatee, Fla., is prohibited.

Beginning Jan. 13, maritime workers including terminal employees, longshoremen, truck drivers, agents and contractors must have a TWIC to gain unescorted access to secure areas of any waterfront terminal regulated by the Coast Guard under the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

It can take four-to-six weeks from the time of enrollment to the time that an applicant receives their TWIC, so maritime workers need to enroll as soon as possible to meet the Jan. 13 enforcement date.

“TWIC is an important layer of security required by the Department of Homeland Security to safeguard the maritime transportation system,” said Capt. Timothy Close, Coast Guard Captain of the Port of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee.  “We highly recommend people enroll now to streamline the transition and ensure minimal disruption to employees or the local economy when enforcement begins in West Florida in January.”

Enforcement of TWIC is being implemented in stages throughout the country to avoid a rush to enroll.  The Jan. 13 deadline applies to all Coast Guard regulated terminals from the Fenholloway River southward to Key West on the west coast of Florida and continuing northward to and including Melbourne Beach on the east coast of Florida.  To date, more than 590,000 people nationwide have applied for a TWIC.

Starting January 13, terminal or facility security personnel will verify that everyone entering the facility possesses a TWIC, and may turn away those without valid identification.  While the new regulations allow people without TWIC cards to be escorted onto facilities under certain conditions, individuals should not expect security personnel to be available to conduct escorts.

“The Tampa Port Authority is working with the Coast Guard to be in full compliance with federal law to ensure that the TWIC implementation will have a minimal effect on the flow of commerce in the Port of Tampa,” said Steve Fidler, the senior director of operations for the port of Tampa.

The Coast Guard will be responsible for enforcing TWIC rules and will be assisted by facility owners, port police, and other federal, state and local partners to achieve the security goals of the program.  To ensure that all port facilities are complying with the TWIC requirements, Coast Guard and other law-enforcement agencies will conduct routine inspections and random spot checks.

Violations of the TWIC regulations range from on-site education and correction to letter of warning to civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation per day.  In addition, operations could be secured at a particular facility depending on the situation.

TWIC enrollment centers may be found at http://twicinformation.tsa.dhs.gov/twicinfo/schedule.jsp

To view additional information regarding TWIC, visit the Coast Guard’s Homeport website at http://homeport.uscg.mil/twic, or the Transportation Security Administration’s website at  http://www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/layers/twic/index.shtm.

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