New SOLAS requirement on container weight declaration as from 1 July 2016
Verified Gross Mass of packed containers
As from 1st July 2016, all shippers of laden containers must provide the verified gross mass (VGM) to the carrier prior to loading. The carrier must subsequently enter the VGM in vessel’s stow plan. Containers without VGM shall not be loaded on board. This new SOLAS regulation is compulsory and applies worldwide. It does not apply to the carriage of empty containers.
What is VGM?
VGM is the verified combined weight of a container’s tare weight plus the weight of cargo, packages, pallets, dunnage and other securing material laden therein. Verified means that the shipper can not estimate the joint weight. The shipper has a responsibility to actually weigh the packed container (method 1) or to calculate the joint weight by adding the weight of the cargo and other contents to the container’s tare weight (method 2). Shippers of bulk cargoes in containers (like tank containers) can only use method 1 for this purpose.
Which shipper must provide the VGM?
The shipper who is responsible to provide the VGM to the carrier is the shipper who, or on whose behalf, a contract of carriage has been concluded with the carrier and who is to be named on the bill of lading, seaway bill or multimodal transport document.
How must the VGM be submitted?
The VGM should be signed by a named individual representing the shipper. The signature may be an electronic signature or the printed name in capitals. The individual takes sole responsibility that the weight declaration is accurate and in compliance with the SOLAS requirements and legislation of the country of shipment. The VGM may be submitted in electronic or digital format like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Portal or email.
When must the VGM be submitted?
The VGM must be provided to the carrier prior to container’s delivery to the load terminal. If the container is transshipped at an intermediate port, no new VGM will be required from the shipper.
What are the consequences if no VGM is provided before above deadline?
The container will not be loaded and shall remain at the terminal for risk and expense of the shipper. The shipper shall be responsible for dead freight, demurrage, storage and any costs/fines/penalties whatsoever arising therefrom.
Shippers of packed containers must ensure timely and accurate provision of VGM to the carrier in order to avoid any disruption in the safe transportation of containers in compliance with the compulsory SOLAS requirements.