Can a Felon Get a TWIC Card?

Starting a career in a field with constant security risks can be difficult. The obstacles that an individual must overcome to be eligible to apply for employment can be discouraging, but well worth the hassle. Looking for employment in an area involving security and special clearance requires complete openness from potential employees. This is especially true for individuals seeking a TWIC card. In this article, we look at what a TWIC card is and how it can affect career opportunities for individuals with a felony record.

  • What is a TWIC Card?
  • How to Get a TWIC Card
  • Can a Felon Get a TWIC Card?
  • What Jobs Can a Felon Get With A TWIC Card?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • The Need for Honesty

What is a TWIC Card?

In 2009, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and the United States Coast Guard started the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The TWIC program requires maritime workers who need unrestricted access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental shelf facilities, and vessels to be regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. TWIC is a document that is required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act. 

Individuals seeking a TWIC card must undergo a background check conducted by the TSA. The TSA conducts a security threat assessment to determine an individual’s eligibility. After assessing an individual’s background, credentials may be approved and issued or denied.

It can be intimidating to hear that a background check will be conducted, but individuals with a felony record should not be discouraged from applying for a TWIC card. The TSA background check will investigate and determine whether individuals have a criminal or arrest record, or if they have been convicted of a disqualifying offense.

This process takes a look at the individuals:

  • Arrest record
  • Past convictions
  • Current legal issues and warrants
  • Indictments

The TWIC card is fitted with a special microchip containing biometric data about the card holder. It can be scanned either by inserting it into a special reader, or remotely by special sensors.

How To Get a TWIC Card

To obtain a TWIC identification card, an individual must complete the application process. Applicants are required to provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, and sometimes retinal scans. Additionally, the information collected will be used to conduct a TSA background check. 

How Do You Qualify For a TWIC Card?

Qualifying for a TWIC card requires an individual to prove their identity and meet eligibility requirements.To apply for a TWIC card, applicants must provide the following information: 

  1. Government Issue Identification: Photo identification from state and federal government that prove identity and citizenship will expedite the application process. Two forms of identification are needed, this can include: State issued driver’s license, Birth Certificate, Passport, Military ID, Native American Tribal Document, state-issued photo identification, or TSA approved documentation.
  2. Visit a TWIC Application Center:  Documentation submitted to a TWIC Application Center. Applicants are fingerprinted and a photo is taken after documentation is submitted. At this time applicants must submit a new applicant fee of $125.25. 
  3. Sit and Wait: It can take up to several weeks to hear back from the TSA. Individuals with potentially disqualifying information will receive a letter with information on how to proceed. Approved individuals will receive a letter and depending on predetermined preferences a TWIC card will be mailed or made ready for pick-up at an application center. 

As a convicted felon, qualifying for a TWIC card is not out of reach. While there are disqualifying offenses, it is very possible to have individual cases reviewed by the TSA Waiver Review Board for appeal. To apply for a TWIC card online, follow this link here.

Can a Felon Get a TWIC Card?

It is possible for a convicted felon to get a TWIC card. While a felon may initially be denied a TWIC card, it is recommended to appeal the decision

If a person is disqualified, the TSA will send an “Initial Determination of Threat Assessment” with the right to appeal mistakes and seek a waiver of certain disqualifications. 

It is important for a felon to submit documents supporting the waiver application:

  • Official documentation showing that the applicant has complied with probation guidelines and all terms of the sentence paid restitution/fines, and, if applicable, expunged the conviction
  • Proof of rehabilitation such as a certificate of completion from a rehabilitation or drug treatment program
  • Letters of support from employers, probation/parole officers, clergy, community leaders, elected officials, and family members describing the applicant’s good character
  • Awards, recognition, or positive performance reviews received since the conviction
  • Sentencing report or transcript that contains favorable information on the circumstances surrounding the crime
  • Any other information that would help TSA determine that the worker does not pose a security threat

A TSA Waiver Review Board reviews every application and makes a recommendation to the Director of Security Threat Evaluation, who decides whether or not to issue the waiver. TSA will send a written decision granting or denying the waiver within 60 days of the applicant’s request for a waiver. The applicant has 30 days from the date of service of the denial to appeal this decision. Complete information on applying for an appeal can be found online here. Applicants can also receive affordable legal advice here.

What Disqualifies You From Getting a TWIC Card?

There are several criminal offenses that can permanently disqualify a felon from getting a TWIC card. These include:

  • Treason
  • Terrorism
  • Transportation Security Crime
  • Improper Transportation of a Hazardous Material
  • Racketeering
  • Murder
  • Possession of a Destructive Device
  • Offenses committed at an airport, onboard an aircraft, or at a maritime port will be investigated in depth. 

In addition to gathering domestic information on applicants, background information is collected from international databases, such as Interpol and terror watch-list. 

While it is not impossible to get a TWIC card after a felony conviction, some crimes may temporarily stop an individual from being approved in the application process. 

“Conviction for one of the following felonies is disqualifying if the applicant was convicted, pled guilty (including ‘no contest’), or was found not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of the date of the application; OR if the applicant was released from incarceration after conviction within five years of the date of the application.”

  • Extortion
  • Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration Violations
  • Distribution, possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape or Aggravated Sexual Abuse
  • Assault With Intent to Kill
  • Robbery
  • Voluntary Manslaughter

Find a complete list of disqualifying offenses online here.

Applicants will also be found ineligible if false or incomplete information is provided on the application. This is why it is important, to be honest, and open during the application process. Remember, applicants may have an opportunity to appeal denials where they can make a case for approval.

What Jobs Can a Felon get With a TWIC Card?

According to the TSA, the workers who are required to obtain one of these cards include anyone who:

  • Works at a government site (military installations, docks, and other sensitive areas)
  • Is a merchant seaman, longshoreman, or truck driver
  • Needs to work at sensitive sites without a security escort

There are currently over 3 million logistics and other transportation professionals enrolled in the TWIC program.

Having a TWIC card can open new doors for individuals convicted of a felony. While many of the jobs are intensive manual labor, the pay can be significantly more than alternative jobs. Listed below are some examples of careers that are available with a TWIC card.

  • Maritime Deckhand
  • Seaman on a Crude Oil Tanker
  • Port & Longshore Workers
  • Truck Drivers
  • Security Officer
  • Transport Driver

Individuals with felonies can successfully apply for a TWIC card and receive work. For additional career opportunities for individuals with a TWIC card, search at this link

An Opportunity For Felons

It is a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to get a TWIC card. Having a record expunged and documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference demonstrating good moral character in a felon succeeding in getting a TWIC card.

Having a record expunged can give an individual the chance needed to start over with a clean record and succeed in getting a TWIC card. 

Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state, on an application, that they have not been convicted of a crime. However, not all expungements erase a criminal conviction for TWIC eligibility. 

Under TSA rules, a conviction is only considered expunged if it is “removed from the individual’s criminal history record, and there are no legal disabilities or restrictions” other than the fact that it can still be used for sentencing for any future convictions.

The Need For Honesty

It is important to be honest in filling out an application when applying for a TWIC card. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful in getting a TWIC card, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Individuals with a felony record have the additional disadvantage of being perceived as dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a TWIC card with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.


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  • A felon will NOT ever get a TWIC card… there are specific stipulations preventing anyone with a history of offences of “moral turpitude” (aka- ANY criminal history they can use against you) from getting a TWIC.

  • I’m a ex felon i just received a twic card it depends how long the felony was if it pass 7 years you may be able to get one last felony I had was 14 years ago

    • Bro my conviction was back in 2007 I obtain a twic card in 2012 after 2 appeals I submitted. Now iam reapplying die to it being expired. Would I have any trouble again like before . Or would it go smooth since I’ve been on a clean sheet?

  • I’m a Xfelon and I need a twic was 30 years ago and it was accessory to a murder can i still get a twic card

  • I have a certificate of rehabilitation .for crime that happen 40 yrs ago ,I’m construction worker, need twic card,the crime was sexual assault ,1979,at a party,can I still get a twic card? So I can work in the refineries,

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