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Dear customers, agents,  

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention. As of July 1, 2016, all loaded containers are required to have a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declared by Shippers to the respective ocean Carriers with whom the containers are booked. Failure to provide the VGM will result in the terminal operator refusing to load the container onto the vessel.  


The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the weight of the cargo including dunnage and bracing plus the tare weight of the container carrying this cargo.  SOLAS requires the shipper to provide VGM in a “shipping document”, either as part of the shipping instructions or in a separate communication, before the vessel loading.  The vessel operator and the terminal operator will be required to use verified container weights in vessel stowage plans and will be prohibited from loading a packed container on board a vessel if the container does not have a verified container weight.  Failure to provide the VGM will result in the container receiving a no load order.  


The regulations place the requirement on the “shipper”, regardless of who packed the container, to provide the container’s gross verified weight to the vessel and terminal operators.  

The “shipper” is a “legal entity or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document as shipper and/or who a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company.  [IMO & WSC Guidelines].   Please carefully review who is listed as the  “shipper” on the bill of lading and ensure they are in compliance with the SOLAS amendment.  


The SOLAS amendment provides two methods by which shippers may determine the container weight once the container packing process has taken place.  These are: 

1.           Weighing the container after it has been packed or;

2.           Weighing all the cargo and contents of the container, including dunnage and securing equipment, and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container. Under either method, the weighing equipment used must meet national certification and calibration requirements. Further, the party packing the container cannot use the weight anyone else has provided.  There is one exception:   “Individual, original sealed packages that have the accurate mass of the packages and cargo items (including any other material such as packing material and refrigerants inside the packages) clearly and permanently marked on their surfaces, do not need to be weighed again when they are packed into the container.”         


There is no provision for a tolerance of margin of error in the SOLAS Amendment, though local jurisdictions are announcing margins of +/- %5.  The slim to none tolerance is designed to meet the gobal of the IMO which is to improve  SAFETY.  The amendment will make the industry shift from stowage plans based on estimated weights to stowage plans based on scientifc and calibrated weighing methods. 


Enforcement is a national issue and will vary country by country.  Although no countries are excluded from SOLAS, local authorities may choose the severity of fines and penalties for non-compliance.  Likewise, each local jurisdiction will implement it’s own methods of audits, inspections and other means by which to ensure compliance by the shippers 


1011, 2014