IMPORTANT NOTICE – 20/05/2016
Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international maritime safety treaty.
‘Verified Gross Mass’ (VGM) is a New Amendment to this Treaty
Parties within the global supply chain have long been concerned over the safety implications of weight mis-declaration and incorrectly packed cargoes in containers. A significant amendment to SOLAS mandating the Verification of Gross Mass (VGM) of containers will come into effect on 1st July 2016.
Verified Gross Mass means that the weight of each packed container will need to be verified. The Verified Gross Weight must include the weight of all packages and cargo items, the container tare and the weight of all additional loading equipment (e.g. dunnage, lashing, Steel wire, turnbuckles, shackles, metal frames etc.)
Noncompliance with the VGM requirements will result in the container not being loaded
If a packed container is received at a port facility for export without a verified gross weight, it shall not be loaded on a vessel until a verified gross weight is obtained. Verified container weights will be used by the terminal operator and the vessel operator for the ship stowage planning.
It is the responsibility of the shipper to obtain and document the verified gross weight of a packed container. VGM should be signed by either the shipper or a person duly authorised by the shipper, electronic or e-signatures will also acceptable.
SOLAS amendments introduced two main new requirements:
- The shipper is responsible for providing the verified weight by stating it in the shipping document and submitting it to the master or his representative and to the terminal representative sufficiently in advance to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan;
- The verified gross weight is a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship.
The SOLAS regulations prescribe two methods by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container.
Method No. 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. 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.
Method No. 1 is appropriate to use for any packed container and any kind of goods.
Method No. 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 the weight of all additional loading equipment (e.g. dunnage, lashing, Steel wire, turnbuckles, shackles, metal frames etc.) and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses of the container’s contents.
- 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.
- The tare mass of the particular container is visible on the exterior of the container and should be used.
- Estimating the weight of a container’s contents is not permitted.
- The party packing the container cannot use the weight somebody else has provided, except in one
specific set of defined circumstances where the cargo has been previously weighed and that
weight is clearly and permanently marked on the surface of the goods.
- It is against the rules to calculate the weight of scrap metal, unbagged grain or anything else shipped in bulk.
A container packed with packages and cargo items shall not be loaded onto a ship to which the SOLAS
amendments apply unless the vessel master or his representative and the terminal representative have
obtained, in advance of vessel loading, the verified gross weight of the container.
Availability to both the terminal representative and to the master or his representative of the verified gross mass of a packed container sufficiently in advance to be used in the ship stowage plan is a prerequisite for the container to be loaded onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations apply.
Please accept the above information as advance notice. Industry bodies are still to advise, the acceptable
calculation and reporting methods, that will fall in line with the VGM requirements. Needless to say there will be only 2 methods as per the amendment.
We will endeavour to keep you updated as further information becomes available.
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