The International Maritime Organization (IMO) amended the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention in November, 2014 to require shippers to verify container weights. These amendments were brought about by accidents resulting from overweight containers – both on the road and at sea – as well as studies showing that an unacceptably large percentage of significantly overweight containers are tendered to carriers. SOLAS is globally binding; all Countries that are party to the convention have undertaken to implement amendments.
1. Accordingly, effective July 1, 2016, the ‘shipper’ named on an ocean bill of lading will be responsible for providing the verified weight, referred to in SOLAS as the verified gross mass (VGM), of a packed container to the carrier and terminal operator. The container cannot be loaded on board the vessel until the carrier and terminal operator have the VGM. In addition, the carrier must have the information far enough in advance to complete the vessel stow plan.
2. Before a packed container can be loaded onto a ship, its weight must be determined through weighing. There is no exception to this requirement. If the acceptable VGM documentation is not timely provided by the shipper, that container will not be loaded on board the vessel.
3. There are two (2) permissible methods for weighing:
- Method 1: Weigh the packed container.
- Method 2: Weigh the cargo and other contents and add tare weight of the container.
4. Estimating weight is not permitted. The shipper must weigh or arrange for weighing of packed container or its contents on equipment that meets the origin national certification and calibration requirements.
5. At present all indications are that the VGM will be required 24 hrs prior to cutoff. Therefore, MIQ will require the VGM certification from the shipper:
- Ocean Shipments to the United States – with the Importer Security Filing (ISF) data 72 hours before lading.
- Ocean Exports from the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America – with the Shippers Letter of Instruction 72 hours before lading.
6. In accordance with our Terms and Conditions, MIQ relies on the correctness of all documentation, whether in written or electronic format, and all information furnished by our Customers or their vendors. Our Customers must use reasonable care to insure the correctness of all such information and shall indemnify and hold MIQ harmless from any and all claims asserted and/or liability or losses suffered by reason of any incorrect information, including the VGM upon which MIQ reasonably relies.
7. We ask therefore, that you notify your vendors wherever located that they will be required to certify the weight of the packed container or the weight of the cargo weight and other contents plus the tare weight of the container.
8. Additionally, because SOLAS is essentially a shipper and load port responsibility, any charges to verify the weight of the cargo and/or loaded container will be considered an Origin Charge accruing to the actual shipper/seller.
MIQ Logistics will continue to monitor the situation and provide more information as each country, carrier and terminal operator clarifies the exact VGM certification procedure. For more information, please contact your local MIQ Logistics representative.
For current information on the SOLAS Container Weight Verification rule, please access this link.