Port workers and truck drivers now only need one Florida criminal background check instead of multiple, duplicate checks to work at three South Florida seaports -- Port Everglades, the Port of Miami and the Port of Palm Beach. The Port Directors of the three seaports signed a memorandum of understanding today to begin sharing information and accepting one background check for entry into all three seaports.
“This memorandum of understanding is a step in the right direction to alleviate an unnecessary burden on workers while ensuring the highest level of security at our seaports,” said Port Everglades Director Phil Allen.
Prior to this agreement, workers had to pay for and complete a separate Florida criminal background check at each seaport to obtain access. Now, workers and truck drivers who have a current and valid credential from Port Everglades, the Port of Miami or the Port of Palm Beach can get an access card to each of the seaports with the same background check.
“Even though each of our ports have a different access system, we have agreed to share a database verifying that an individual has passed a state-mandated background check and is eligible for port access according to state security standards,” said Manuel Almira, Port Director for Port of Palm Beach.
“The goal is to save money for the people who have to come to the ports to do their jobs. And, we won’t have to sacrifice security to accomplish this goal,” said Bill Johnson, Port Director for Port of Miami.
While the Florida State Legislature recently amended the state’s seaport security laws to establish a statewide port access eligibility reporting system that will allow for access to all Florida’s public seaports with a single background check, implementation of that system will take a few months. This reciprocity agreement will provide some relief to South Florida port workers until the system is in place.
Workers who already have had the state criminal background check and have access cards from one of the seaports must appear at the ID Offices of the other ports and present their Port Everglades, Port of Miami ID badge or Transportation Workers Identification Credential (for the Port of Palm Beach only). This credential will then be compared to a database, supplied by those ports, to verify that the cardholder has completed a state criminal history background check and that access authorization is current and valid. If the person’s name is in the database, they will be issued a port access card with an expiration date that corresponds with the expiration date at the other port. Since another state background check is not required, the charge for this credential will be less than currently charged (prices vary at each port).