Contributed by: Jamey Bowser, Corporate Customs Broker (April 2016)
Dear Valued Customers,
The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee has approved and adopted changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention regarding a mandatory container weight verification requirement on shippers. This is an effort the committee has been advocating for many years. The Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargo and Containers (DSC) sub-committee approved changes to the SOLAS convention that will require verification of container weights before loaded containers may be placed aboard ships. This requirement makes container weight verification a condition for vessel loading and will become legally binding on July 1, 2016.
Some frequently asked questions on this matter include:
What does it mean to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM)?
- The VGM is the certified gross cargo weight (including weight of all packing material) plus the container tare weight (i.e. weight of empty / un-laden container).
Who is responsible to provide the VGM?
- The Shipper on the master bill of lading is responsible for providing the VGM to the carrier. The carrier is responsible for relaying the VGM to the terminal.
What is the date of implementation?
- July 1, 2016
When is VGM required?
- VGM is required prior to shipment. Cargo will not be loaded onto a vessel unless a certified VGM is provided.
Why is VGM needed?
- SOLAS is an IMO global mandatory regulatory requirement. VGM is used for vessel planning and safe stowage of cargo.
What happens if VGM cannot be provided?
- Cargo will not be loaded.
Will there be a fee to file VGM?
- While industry standard fee structures have not yet emerged, it is expected that shippers and/or consignees will bear the extra expenses associated with obtaining and reporting VGM.
What documentation will be required to confirm VGM?
- A signed, certified VGM confirmation will be required. These shipping instructions verify the VGM and should be signed by a person duly authorized by the shipper. The signature may be an electronic signature or may be replaced by the name in capitals of the person authorized to sign it.
What methods can be used for calculating the VGM?
- There are two methods for calculating VGM:
- Weigh the entire packed / laden container
- Weigh all container contents (i.e. cargo/packages, packaging and dunnage material) and add the tare weight (i.e. weight of empty / un-laden container)
We expect global standards for electronic transmission of required VGM data to emerge and finalize in the months ahead. Globe Express Services (GES) is working to develop a global VGM reporting process and will keep you informed accordingly. You may also wish to refer to following link which provides more detailed background and information.
- World Shipping Council Guidelines for Improving Safety and Implementing the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirements
Should you have any specific questions please contact:
Jamey Bowser, Corporate Customs Broker