The SOLAS requirement for Verified Gross Mass of containers

We would like to inform you that on July 1st, 2016 the container weight verification global requirement as outlined by the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) will be effective.

Gneral Introduction
Major incidents and accidents resulting from overweight containers have prompted the international shipping community to take action in order to prevent incorrect weight declarations. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) in collaboration with industry representatives has therefore adopted specific rules as part of the SOLAS Convention. The purpose of the VGM requirement is to obtain an accurate gross weight of packed containers so that vessel and terminal operators can prepare vessel stowage plans prior to loading cargo on ships. The requirement will protect vessel and terminal operator’s people and assets, as well as shipper’s cargo.

The VGM regulation will impact the communication, infrastructure and processes of all participants in the supply chain. The time for having the VGM methodologies and requirements implemented is short and Yamato Transport Europe BV is closely working to have processes in place.

VGM is required prior to shipping. Cargo will not be loaded onto a vessel unless a certified VGM is provided.

Who is responsible for providing the VGM (Verified Gross Mass)
The shipper (named on the ocean bill of lading or sea waybill) is the responsible party for verification and providing the VGM to the ocean carrier, terminal operator.

Methods to determine the VGM (Verified Gross Mass)
  • Method 1: by weighing the loaded container;
  • Method 2: by calculating the weight of all goods, packaging material, dunnage, other securing material and the tare mass of the container.

How to declare the VGM (Verified Gross Mass)
SOLAS doesn’t mandate any particular for providing the VGM. The VGM information of the packed container should be conspicuously identified as such and must be part of a shipping document (booking request or shipping instruction) or communicated separately ( e.g. declaration including a weight certificate). The document declaring the VGM must be signed by the shipper or a person duly authorized by the shipper. The VGM and signature may be transmitted electronically.

Yamato Transport Europe BV has created two template declarations. One for FCL- and one for LCL-shipments and can be downloaded from our website.

What in case the VGM (Verified Gross Mass) is missing?
SOLAS imposes an obligation on the carrier and terminal operator not to load a packed container aboard a ship without VGM for that container. Compliance with this obligation by the carrier and terminal operator may result in penalties (commercial and operational), such as delayed shipping and additional costs if the shipper has not provided the VGM. The penalties may involve repacking costs, administrational fee for amending documents, demurrage, delayed or cancelled shipments, etc.

For more detailed information, see the World Shipping Counsel website: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/cargo-weight or contact the local Yamato Transport Europe BV branch.
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