top of page

Trouble in TWIC-Land: This is important for all mariners!

If you were issued a card before October 21st: The power outage that disrupted TWIC activations on Oct. 21, 2008 permanently damaged the equipment used to reset TWIC PINs,  AND wiped the PIN codes from existence. (Sonofabitch!)

No data or personal information was lost or compromised, just the PINs.

As a result, if you were issued a TWIC prior to this date and forgot your PIN, you will be issued a replacement card free of charge.

I spoke with the T.S.A. Help Desk and found out that if your issue date was prior to October 21, 2008 you’ll have no option but to replace the card and activate the new one the same as you did when you first received it. You can use your old PIN if you want to (if you remember it).

The deadline date stands and is only going to change if your Coast Guard C.O.T.P. decides it’s necessary.  If you are still “in process” when April 15th rolls around, you’ll be ok if you can produce your ticket# according to the info I’ve just received.

It was emphasized that you need to be in process as soon as possible and it’s said to take 2-4 weeks, at least. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is going to contact card holders, but you can initiate the process yourself.

Here’s the steps:

1. Call 866-347-8942.

2. When the prompts begin, press 3. When you get to that menu, press 2. That will get you in touch with a real live person.

3. Tell them you are calling because your TWIC was issued prior to October 21, 2008. They’ll need the following information: name, date of birth, the location of the TWIC Center where you got your original card, and a telephone number where they can leave a message that your new card is ready for pick-up.

4. Receive a ticket number ( a 6-digit tracking number) and write it down and save it for future reference.

It didn’t take terribly long (it took me 5 min after I got a human being on the phone) and I would suggest everyone do this as soon as possible. You’ll be notified when your new card is ready but there’s no time frame on replacements just yet. Your card can still be used as identification verification by your picture, then you just return your old card. There is no fee as long as you return your old card. If you don’t have it you’ll be charged the lost card fee – $60.

There may also be problems with cards issued after October 21, 2008. You can have your card checked at the TWIC center. Ask them to swipe the card and to confirm that your PIN is still valid. There isn’t any definitive information regarding what changes may affect the April 15th Deadline as of yet, but it doesn’t appear that it will be changed in any event.

Capt. Bill Brucato

Editor’s Note: before anyone runs off and starts this process, possibly without needing to, please read this statement that is on the TSA website on the TWIC Questions & Answers page. You’ll have to scroll down to the bottom of the first section, called PROGRAM INFORMATION. It says,

Pin resets

  1. How do I reset the personal identification number (PIN) on my TWIC? If you were issued a card after October 21st:

  2. To reset your PIN, you must bring your TWIC card to an enrollment center, walk-ins are welcome. Click here to find the closest enrollment center.

If you were issued a card before October 21st:

  1. The power outage that disrupted TWIC activations on Oct. 21, 2008 permanently damaged the equipment used to reset TWIC PINs. No data or personal information was lost or compromised. As a result, if you were issued a TWIC prior to this date and forgot your PIN, you will be issued a replacement card free of charge. In order to do this, please contact the TWIC Help Desk (1-866-DHS-TWIC) to open a ticket and receive further instructions. Once your replacement card is ready for pick up, you will be notified via phone or email (the option you selected during enrollment). At that time, you make an appointment for activation at

  2. PIN resets are being prioritized based on compliance grouping. The current schedule when you will get your card reissued with a new PIN is as follows:

If I’m reading it correctly this appears to apply only to those who have forgotten/failed to record their original TWIC PINs, the 10-digit / symbol / letter password you had to choose when you enrolled in the system, and need to reset their PIN. Surely you must recall doing it? I remember it as being the biggest pain-in-the-ass of the whole process because the rules for choosing your PIN forced you to break it up into a sequence that you’d be highly unlikely to ever remember without tons of repetition. This was done, apparently, to maintain a higher level of security: you couldn’t just pick something that you might actually remember easily like HOWNOWBROWNCOW, LITTLETOOT, or the one I wanted to have, TWICSUCKS. In any case, I’m hoping (maybe in vain) that because I wrote down and saved my PIN that I won’t have to go through it again. I’ll be contacting TSA to get confirmation on it and will post accordingly once I know.

While browsing the Q&A section I also noticed this little gem:

  1. Is TWIC an acceptable form of ID at an airport screening checkpoint?

  2. Yes, the TWIC card is an approved government issued photo ID.

Could’ve fooled me. They evidently must not have email, printers or regular informational briefings for the screening personnel at the Transportation Security Administration. It seems that no one in the TSA bothered to alert their own screeners to the fact that the TWIC is “an approved government issued photo ID” because on the three occasions I’ve attempted to use it for that very purpose since I got mine last April I was met with either confusion (“I’ve never heard of those”) or suspicious scowls and glares (“That’s not acceptable”). As a result I haven’t dared attempt to use it again for fear of being referred to a prolonged secondary inspection/body-cavity search right before trying to make a crew change flight. They were, however, perfectly happy to accept my relatively easy-to-counterfeit, non-biometric state driver’s license instead. Oh well, I guess if everyone can at least feel a little more secure it’s all worth it somehow…..

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

How useless is the TWIC? Pretty much completely. Hell, it’s even listed at the very bottom of the TSA’s own list of acceptable forms of ID when checking in at an airport! How big of a waste of money,

Ever since 9/11 mariners have been largely kept in a state of virtual lockdown at most marine facilities and, in some cases, this has included a strict prohibition on us setting so much as one foot on

bottom of page