On July 1, 2016, a container cannot be loaded onto a vessel without the shipper submitting the container’s verified gross mass (VGM). This is the result of Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) becoming legally effective July 1st. SOLAS was amended by the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) in November of 2014, requiring shippers to provide a container’s VGM to the carrier and terminal operator before a container may be loaded on board a vessel, with enough time in advance of loading for the carrier to complete the vessel stow plan. Under this new regulatory change, the shipper will be required to provide verified weight of the container using one of the two approved methods. The shipper will be held responsible for the accuracy of the weight submitted to the carrier or terminal.

Estimating weight is not permitted under the new SOLAS requirements. There are two acceptable methods: method 1–the shipper must weigh the packed container or method 2–the shipper must weigh the container’s contents. Under either permissible method, the weighing equipment used must meet national certification and calibration requirements. Exactly how shippers will submit the VGM information to the carrier will most likely be carrier specific; however, the specific requirements and procedures are not yet known.

This is an international requirement and all shippers throughout the world will be required to comply with the new SOLAS requirements for submitting the weight of the container. Importers will be affected if their shippers fail to meet the new requirements resulting in possible shipping delays. Additionally, the cost of compliance will most likely be passed on to the purchaser of the goods.

DJS will continue to monitor the individual carrier requirements and procedures and provide updates as more details and specifics are known.

The full article published by the World Shipping Council can be accessed here: SOLAS.