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SOLAS and VGM Updates

Noatum Logistics Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Certification Documents 

Container Weight Verification Rule

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a new requirement under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, Part A, Regulation 2, which went into effect on July 1, 2016. This new container weight verification rule will impact shippers from 171 countries due to the added requirements of necessary documentation. This amendment to SOLAS states that the shipper is responsible in providing the container’s gross verified weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative prior to the container being loaded on a ship; regardless of who packed the container.

According to the World Shipping Council, “a verified container weight is a condition for loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export. The vessel operator and the terminal operator are required to use verified container weights in vessel stowage plans and are prohibited from loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export if the container does not have a verified container weight.”

This means that containers cannot be loaded onto any ship subject to the SOLAS regulations unless the vessel master and the terminal operator have obtained verified gross weight of the container in advance of loading.

Below you will find key information regarding this pending new law.

Key Information

Understanding the new Container Weight Verification Rule and the recommended methods for determining weight of your packed container:

  • What is SOLAS? The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime safety treaty. It ensures that ships flagged by signatory States comply with the minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation.  The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.   
  • When does the new weight verification rule become effective?  July 1st 2016
  • How does the shipper determine the verified gross weight of the packed container? The shipper (named on the carrier’s bill of lading) may use one of the two methods according to the World Shipping Council to determine the verified weight of the packed container:
    • Method 1: Upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container and using calibrated and certified equipment, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party weigh, the packed container. SOLAS Regulation, paragraph 4.1; IMO Guidelines, paragraph 5.1.1 The scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment or other devices used to verify the gross mass of the container must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used. IMO Guidelines, paragraph 7.1.
    • Method 2: The shipper (or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party) may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses of the container’s contents. IMO Guidelines, paragraph 5.1.2. 
    • The weighing equipment used to weigh the contents of the container must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used. IMO Guidelines, paragraph 7.1. 
    • The tare mass of the particular container is visible on the exterior of the container and should be used. IMO Guidelines, paragraph 12:1. 
    • Estimating the weight of the container’s contents is not permitted.


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