April 7th 2020

The Coast Guard has issued a bulletin saying that it is relaxing some credentialing requirements to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on vessel and port operations.

In particular, it is reducing rules related to the Transportation Worker Identification Card and extending credentials that are set to expire.

Under normal circumstances, to apply for and hold a Merchant Mariner Credential, mariners must acquire a TWIC from the Transportation Security Administration.

The TWIC application process requires an in-person visit to a TSA enrollment center, but TSA has reported that although its own centers are open, some contractor-run centers are now closed.

For this reason, the Coast Guard says it will not pursue suspension and revocation actions for existing MMCs due to expired TWICs.

In addition, it says it will accept MMC applications from mariners who have completed the TWIC application process (enrollment) but have not yet received their TWIC approval.

Mariners with an expired TWIC who apply for a renewal, raise of grade, new endorsement or duplicate MMC may do so without a valid TWIC if they demonstrate that they have enrolled for a TWIC renewal.

As previously announced by the agency, MMC national endorsements, STCW endorsements and medical certificates that are set to expire between March 1 and July 31 have been extended through Oct. 31.

Additional certifications and approval notices, such as the Approval to Test letter, have been extended for the same period.

MMC applications may be submitted online via the National Maritime Center’s web portal, but all RECs and testing centers are closed.

To provide flexibility during the pandemic, the Coast Guard says the TWIC escort ratio may be
adjusted to meet employee shortages or other demands.

To date, the agency says, the processing of TWIC enrollments has not been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and there is no delay in vetting, card production or issuance.

It said TSA’s Enrollment Centers remain open at this time, and TSA is processing new TWIC

Applicants planning to visit a TSA enrollment center should use the “Find an Enrollment Center” feature at the bottom of to determine if the center is open.

To read the entire Coast Guard bulletin, click here.