Posted by: towmasters | February 27, 2009

Semi-False Alarm: Trouble In TWIC-Land Follow-Up

I just got off the phone with the TSA’s TWIC Help Desk and, after explaining to them that I have a pre-October 21st TWIC and that I had written down and saved my original PIN for it, was told “you’re fine.”  Just to be on the safe side, I called them back to see if I might get a different answer from a different person. The answer was the same. I was also informed that the problem stems from workers whose cards have or will become automatically locked from excessive incorrect PIN entries. 

Here’s how it works: if you use your pre-October 21st TWIC to enter a regulated facility and enter the PIN incorrectly 10 times the card is immediately locked. To get it unlocked requires that you know your PIN when you contact the TSA. So if you never wrote down your original PIN, or wrote it down and then lost it, and you can’t remember it then they can’t unlock it and you’ll need to get a new card. Speaking for myself, I’ve never used the damn thing anyway. Nobody has readers yet so I’ve never had occasion to enter the PIN, therefore I’ve had no opportunity to screw up and lock the card, therefore my card is fine.

Basically, everyone falls into one of three categories:

  1. You have a TWIC of whatever vintage and you remember, wrote down or otherwise retained your PIN: you’re good to go, no worries.
  2. You have a pre-October 21st TWIC and, for whatever reason, you don’t have your PIN: you need to get a new card and the process must be initiated via the TWIC Help Desk (1-866-TSA-TWIC).
  3. You have a post-October 21st TWIC and, for whatever reason, you don’t have your PIN: you need to get your PIN reset. This can be done at any enrollment center and walk-ins are welcome, although your wait will probably be shorter with an appointment.

So there you have it. The only question I had that couldn’t be answered on the spot by the TWIC Help Desk was whether the 10 incorrect PIN entries threshold for triggering the automatic deactivation of a TWIC was consecutive incorrect entries or cumulative incorrect entries during the standard 5-year life of the card. I would like to think that someone thought this through ahead of time and that it’s the former, but you know what happens when you assume. More on this later when accurate information becomes available.

In closing, I must mention that the people who answered the phone at the TWIC Help Desk were pleasant, helpful, and took the time to explain in detail to me exactly what the situation is and what course of action individuals must take to remedy the problem. I’m still no TWIC fan but I can honestly say that I have no complaints about the service I received.


  1. […] Read this from the Master of Towing Vessel Association. […]

  2. When I called two days ago I was told regardless of p.i.n, I had to get a new card for pre-21Oct08 due to a power outage. If they try to reset a pin, it will come up false for entry. Now the fun part… I never got a pin. I was issued the card and never asked to insert a pin. I know someone else that never put in a pin. HOWEVER… I just spoke to TSA and they said that all is good. If you cannot put in your pin, arrange w/ TSA to get a new card. I asked them to forward me this info via email, and I will send it to you when I get it for posting.

  3. This whole TWIC thing is a walking scandal.

    It’s making Lockheed-Martin some big money but otherwise the TSA has no clue about how to administer the TWIC program.

  4. Honokohau Harbor in Kailua,Kona Hawaii is a Public Harbor with With Gas Stations,Haul Out Yards,Launch Ramps,Sundry Stores and Flow Through Traffic.Theres 220 Boat Slips 110 are Private and 110 are Commercial Sportfishing Boats,Dive Boats,Whale Watch ect.The only ones with TWIC Cards are the Licenced Captains(37 years)with Million Dollar Insurance on “U.S.C.G.Documented Vessels”The Homeless live in Honokohau Harbor and Drug Dealers use the Payphones but 200 Licenced Captains have TWIC Cards?There will NEVER be a Card Reader in Honokohau Harbor Theres No Gate,No Guard and when Boarded by the U.S.C.G. in Early March the Boarding Officer said we will “NEVER USE the TWIC Cards in Honokohau Harbor Except to Save Our Livlihood”(U.S.C.G.Licence). Please Help Stop the Madness and Write your Senators S-3377 is the Bill to mention.Thank You Capt Bill Crawford Chiripa Sportfishing.Kona,Hawaii.

  5. The 10 PIN attempt limit is for consecutive attempts. The count is not cumulative. A single correct PIN validation will reset your count to 0.

  6. D.H.S.,T.S.A. and the U.S.C.G are happy that we’re all arguing and talking about how long it’s taken and what trouble we’re having to get the TWIC Card instead of Why We need them at all!!We’re Playing right into there Program.Here in my local Honokohau Harbor Kona,Hawaii there Will Never be a Card Reader and the Only Reason we need the TWIC is to Save our Livilyhood,In my case 37 Years Licenced with 7 Renewals all Noterized on a U.S.C.G. Documented Vessel.Honokohau Harbor is Open to the Public with all the Public Facilities Stores,Gas Stations,Launch Ramps(5000 Trailer boats use),Haul out yards,Restuarants ect.Homeless people live in the Harbor area and Drug Dealers use the Payphones but the Licenced Captains with Million Dollar Insurance on Documented Vessels need the TWIC Cards??Here in Honokohau Harbor we’re a bunch of Sportfishing Boats,Dive Boats,Whale Watch Boats trying to Ech out a living in the Economy the Goverment created and Paying the Goverment for the TWIC Card we will NEVER USE!!200 TWIC Cards in Honokohau and NOT ONE has been Used and mine has NOT Left the Visor of my Truck in 6 months,sence I received it.Captains!! Please Help Stop the Madness and Keep Writing.Where is S-3377 and Who Represents us Lowly Captains Who bring Millions of Dollars to our Communties and Provides Intertainment to So Many Great Tourist throughout this Fine Country…Captains Please Keep Writing!! Thank You Captain Bill Crawford “Chiripa Sportfishing”Kona,Hawaii……….

  7. I went to Blount Island terminal (Jacksonville, Fl) today to renew my expired
    JaxPort Badge. They asked for the pin on my TWIC that i have had for two years.
    I have never had to use this pin. I could not remember it.
    Their TWIC guy said I had to give him $60.00 cash for a new #.
    I told him I did not have the $60.00 so he showed me the door.

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