TSA To Allow Grace Period For Expired Hazardous Materials Endorsement Renewals

EMA continued its efforts last week to obtain a waiver extension for security background checks and fingerprinting requirements that CDL drivers must submit to state licensing agencies for renewal of expiring hazardous material endorsements (HME).

            The requirements expired on December 31.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) first issued the waiver back in March due to COVID related closure of TSA processing centers and state licensing agencies.

The TSA told EMA it would not extend the waiver past December 31, 2020 since all of the agency’s fingerprinting and security background check processing centers are open and operating at pre-COVID levels.

However, the same is not true for many state licensing agencies that are still operating at reduced capacity and require drivers to wait months for in-person appointments for HME and CDL renewal.

Recognizing the continuing renewal backlog on the state level, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended the validity of expired CDLs through February 28, 2021.

Without a similar waiver extension by TSA, drivers waiting for a renewal appointment at their state licensing agency will be without a valid HME after December 31, 2020.

In order to avoid any disruption in the validity of expiring HMEs, EMA sent a letter this week to the Administrator of the TSA requesting a waiver extension.

EMA urged the agency to reverse its decision and extend the waiver period through February 28, 2021 in order to avoid any disruption in the motor and heating fuel distribution chain due to the inability of drivers to renew their HMEs in a timely manner.

NACS, SIGMA and NATSO agreed to sign onto the EMA letter.

In addition, EMA enlisted the help of U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, (the Committee of jurisdiction over the TSA) who is currently in contact with the TSA concerning an extension of the HME waiver deadline.

Grace Period

On December 31, EMA reported TSA decided not to accept EMA’s request to extend the waiver allowing states to recognize expired hazardous material endorsements (HME) beyond December 31, 2020.

However, the good news is TSA is allowing drivers a grace period of 180 days to renew expired HMEs so long as they start the renewal process (submit information for TSA background check) within 60 days of the date of their HME expiration.

For drivers who are currently operating with an expired HME, the date from which to measure the 60-day and 180-day grace periods is December 31, 2020, the date the TSA waiver expires.

This means drivers with expired HMEs must start the renewal process no later than March 1, 2021 and obtain the HME renewal no later than June 29, 2021. Drivers may continue to operate under an expired HME during the renewal process.

While the TSA grace periods for HME renewal are not binding on state driver’s licensing agencies, the TSA believes all states operating under the waiver will adopt the 60-day and 180-day grace periods for HME renewal.

The 60-day and 180-day grace periods apply only to HMEs expiring after March 1, 2020 but no later than December 31, 2020.

Drivers should check with their state licensing agencies for any possible variances in the HME renewal process.

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