HAZMAT Endorsement Threat Assessment Program
Q: What is the rule under which TSA is conducting the Hazmat Driver Threat Assessment Program?
A: On May 5, 2003, TSA published a rule to secure the transportation of hazardous materials (Hazmat), including explosives, by requiring threat assessments for all individuals who apply for, renew, or transfer a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) on their commercial Drivers License (CDL). On January 25, 2007, TSA modified this rule to include additional disqualifiers and appeal mechanisms. The rule is 49 CFR 1572.
Q: Who is affected by the rule?
A: You must undergo a security threat assessment if you wish to transport hazardous materials requiring vehicle placards under DOT regulations. This rule does not apply to applicants for holders of a CDL who do not wish to transport hazardous materials.
Q: Does this rule apply to drivers entering the U.S. from Canada and Mexico?
A: This rule applies only to drivers who hold a CDL issued by a state of the U.S. Generally, this would not include drivers from Canada and Mexico. There is a separate rule that addresses Canadian drivers hauling explosives into the U.S. Eventually, all drivers will have to meet threat assessment and eligibility standards that are comparable to the standards that now apply to Hazmat drivers in the U.S.
Q: What constitutes a “hazardous material” under this rule?
A: Any material that requires placarding under the DOT hazardous materials regulations is considered a hazardous material for purposes of this rule.
Q: Who is eligible to hold an HME under the rule?
A: You must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or alien with legal rights to work, and must not pose a threat of terrorism or a threat to national or transportation security.
Q: Will a conviction for drug possession or use disqualify a driver from holding a Hazmat endorsement?
A: Possibly, if you were convicted of a felony within the past seven years, or were released from prison within the past five years. State laws vary on the quantity of drugs required for the offense to be considered a felony. Misdemeanor drug offenses will not disqualify you from holding an HME under this rule.
Q: Will a conviction for a minor placarding violation or roadside infraction involving the transport of hazardous materials disqualify a driver from holding a Hazmat endorsement?
A: No. Under the rule, you may be disqualified from holding an HME if you were convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a felony involving improper transportation of a hazardous material.
Q: What happens to drivers who currently hold an HME but who are disqualified under this rule?
A: You must voluntarily and immediately surrender your HME if the standards listed in the rule are not met. You may apply for a waiver if you were convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a disqualifying criminal offense, or were adjudicated as mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution, but you may only apply for the waiver after submitting an application and fingerprints for the threat assessment.
Q: What happens when a threat assessment indicates that a driver does not meet standards set forth under the rule?
A: TSA notifies you of the initial finding via a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility (PDI) letter that a disqualifying event or status exists, and you are given the opportunity to respond. If TSA makes a final determination that you pose a security threat, it will direct the state to revoke your HME. If TSA discovers that you have outstanding criminal or immigration violations warrants, the information will be transmitted to the proper authorities.
Q: Is there an appeal process for drivers who are disqualified?
A: You may appeal the disqualification on the grounds of mistaken identity or other information, such as a reversed conviction.
Q: Will TSA tell a candidate why he or she is disqualified?
A: Yes, unless the information is classified.
Q: How often must a driver be fingerprinted and qualified under this rule?
A: Generally, you must renew your HME every five years, although some states may require more frequent reviews based on shorter license cycles. You will be required to submit new fingerprints at the time of renewal of the endorsement.
Q: Why must individual truckers and/or their employers pay for the security threat assessment?
A: Congress did not appropriate funds to cover the cost of the security threat assessment, and so TSA must charge a fee to recover those costs. Currently, state motor vehicle departments require you to bear all the costs of applying for an HME on a CDL.
Q: Who is not covered by this rule?
A: You are unaffected by this rule if you don't wish to hold an HME. Similarly, you will not be asked to undergo fingerprinting if you wish to surrender your HME. TSA will not suspend your right to hold a CDL or to transport non-hazardous cargo if you were disqualified from carrying hazardous materials due to past criminal convictions or certain lawful presence statuses.
Q: What does a driver need to do if he or she no longer requires his/her HME or wishes to drop the HME prior to its expiration?
A: If you no longer require your HME or wish to drop your HME prior to your expiration date, you should notify your state driver’s licensing agency. In addition, please contact us at: https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/tsacontact/DynaForm.aspx?FormID=180. Please include your name, CDL number, contact information and reason you no longer require your HME. When filling out the form, under Applicant Status, please select the NO LONGER REQUIRE HME selection.
Q. Are the background checks for an HME the same as the background checks conducted for individuals applying for a TWIC STA?
A. Yes. They have the same eligibility requirements, share a consistent waiver and appeal process, and leverage the same fingerprint-based criminal history records check. As a result, the HME and TWIC STAs have been deemed comparable.
Q. Do applicants with HMEs have to repeat the STA if they are applying for TWICs?
A. No. Applicants who apply for a TWIC do not have to pay the full price for the TWIC STA if they apply successful clearance results from their most recent HME STA, and as a result, the fee for the TWIC is reduced by $24.50. All TWIC applicants must pay the fees that cover the other components of the TWIC program, including enrollment and card issuance. Applicants are always offered the option to apply for a full-fee TWIC STA if they determine it is more cost effective to do so.
Q. If an applicant already has a TWIC and qualifies for a comparable HME STA, what is the application fee?
A. For eligible individuals licensed in the 39 States and the District of Columbia that use the TSA-contracted Agent for the HME STA program, the application fee of $86.50 is reduced by $19.50 to $67.00. The programmatic portion of the threat assessment fee is reduced by $5, because this is the historical cost of the portion of the threat assessment that is satisfied by previously conducted TSA vetting services. In addition, the $14.50 FBI fee is not required because the applicant is not submitting fingerprints for a criminal check. [Note: the fee of $86.50 covers the TSA threat assessment only and the State may charge additional fees for the HME application process, including testing and license issuance.]
For eligible individuals in States that do not use the TSA-contracted Agent, the current application fee and the reduction of the application fee will vary depending upon that specific State’s processing fees. Using a comparable TWIC STA will reduce the HME STA application fee by no less than $19.50. The programmatic portion of the threat assessment fee is reduced by $5, because this is the historical cost of the portion of the threat assessment that is satisfied by previously conducted TSA vetting services. In addition, the $14.50 FBI fee is not required because the applicant is not submitting fingerprints for a criminal check. [Note: the State of Virginia is the only Non-Agent State to currently offer comparability.]
Q. Since HME requirements are specific to the individual States, are all 50 States and the District of Columbia offering individuals who hold TWICs a reduced fee when applying for an HME STA?
A. No. Due to specific State statutes, license cycles, and system limitations, not all States will be able to offer a reduced fee for the HME STA to their applicants. Applicants in a State that can offer comparability will be provided notice and the option to pay a reduced fee by electing to use a comparable TWIC STA during the application process. The States that offer comparability are listed in the charts above.
Q. If TWIC holders choose to use comparable TWIC STAs, when will their HMEs expire?
A. The HME will be issued with the same expiration date as the individual’s TWIC STA. Therefore, individuals should consider the expiration date of their current TWIC STA to determine if it is cost effective to apply for a comparable HME STA.
Q. How do TWIC holders who are applying for HME STAs know if the State where they are applying for the HME STA offers comparability?
A. Please see the listing of States above. Applicants can ask States about comparability during the application process, or they can contact the Universal Enrollment Services Help Desk at 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371) (7am-10pm Eastern, Monday – Friday). Additionally, the online application (available here) for the HME STA will identify whether particular States offer comparability once applicants specify the State in which they are licensed.