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The SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement (VGM) : Effective July 1, 2016

Did you know that the container weight verification requirement as outlined by the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) will begin being enforced on July 1, 2016?

No? Well, then we need to tell you about it!

As shipperiStock_000003423082_Larges, you will be responsible for verifying the total gross weight of any container you load or run the risk of missing your booked vessel if the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) documentation is ignored.

Due to major incidents and accidents caused by overweight containers, The International Maritime Organization (IMO) in collaboration with industry representatives has adopted new weight verification rules as port of the SOLAS Convention.

The main purpose of the VGM document regulation is to obtain an accurate gross weight of packed containers so that vessel’s and terminal operators can put together vessal loading and stowage plans BEFORE loading cargo containers on ships. This requirement will protect vessel and terminal operators’ people and equipment as well as your (the shippers’) cargo.

The VGM document will be required prior to loading cargo onto ships. How soon this document will be required from time it is loaded at your warehouse is still at this point undetermined – however it will need to be provided BEFORE container arrives at port of export.

Here are your responsibilities:

  • The shipper (that is the party listed on the Bill of Lading or sea waybill) is RESPONSIBLE for providing the VGM document to us BEFORE vessel loading date (as stated on booking information provided to you).
  • The VGM document will include container number, seal number, number of pieces loaded, tare weight of container (this is stenciled on every container!) and total weight of all material loaded – including any dunnage (securing) materials (such as skids, bracing etc). The weight amounts are to be totaled as the Gross Mass of the container.
  • This rule applies to ALL Containers, tank containers, flat racks and bulk containers.
  • The scale used for weighing your cargo has to be calibrated/certified in accordance with local/national rules (and must be verifiable by you if weight is brought into question by carrier).
  • There are two ways of calculating the VGM:
    • Weigh the packed/loaded container after cargo is loaded.
    • Weigh all packages, packing and dunnage material and add the tare weight of the container.

At this time, there is no standard form for the VGM document. We have however attached a CONTAINER WEIGHT VERIFICATION form for this that we would like you to use that we can send easily along with BL information to the ship line.

Please remember – this policy goes into effect on July 1, 2016 – however many carriers, along with us, will be requesting the VGM document beginning in June 2016 in order to be sure we are complying correctly with this new rule.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns on this new policy. Email us at: info@held-assoc.com