The Safety of Life at Sea convention (SOLAS) is a treaty of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Recent changes to the treaty have required that shippers document the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of containers using specific methods. Though not law yet the amendment is set to become international law July 1st 2016. Shippers risk missing their booked vessel if the VGM documentation is ignored. We ask that our customers begin providing VGM documentation starting June 1st 2016 so as to avoid complications.
Reasons for VGM
In recent years, major cargo ship accidents have occurred due to overweight containers costing the loss of shipments, equipment, vessels and lives. The IMO has adopted these new VGM rules to ensure terminal operators can assemble a vessel loading and stowage plan before loading the containers onto the ships.
Responsibilities of the Shipper
The shipper (the party listed on the Bill of Lading or sea waybill) is responsible for providing VGM documentation before the loading date of the shipment.
VGM document includes container number, seal number, number of pieces, tare weight of container and total weight of all material loaded (including skids, bracing ect). The Gross Mass of the container is the total weight of the container with all materials inside.
The scale used for weighing the containers must be calibrated and certified in accordance with local and national rules.
Under the SOLAS amendments there are two methods for weighing:
- Requires weighing the container after it has been packed.
- Requires weighing all cargo and contents of the container and adding those weight to the container’s tare weight indicated on the door of the container.
For the shipper’s weight verification to be compliant with the SOLAS requirement, it must be signed meaning a specific person representing the shipper is named and identified as having verified the accuracy of the weight calculation on behalf of the shipper.
For an additional rate MFS can provide VGM documentation of containers for ocean shipments if shippers do not have access to certified equipment.
Additional resources for information on VGM
- SOLAS Advisory letter for MFS Shippers
- A letter advising MFS Shippers of the upcoming changes to International Law and detailing how MFS will proceed with these changes. Version Française
- CIFFA's Standard Trading Conditions
- We comply with CIFFA's Standard Trading Conditions outlined in the PDF. Version Française
- International Maritime Organization
- IMO article on the Verification of the gross mass of a packed container.
- Requesting a Quote for Verified Gross Mass Weighing
- Under Optional Quote Information, select Transport > Ocean (VGM Weighing) to request a quote for Verified Gross Mass weighing.