The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a new regulation under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) which requires shippers to provide Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for every packed container to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative before being loaded onto a ship. A verified container weight is a mandatory condition for loading a packed container onto a vessel for export – no verified weight means ‘No load’. This will take effect from July 1st 2016.
The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the weight of the packed container including cargo weight, packing/securing material and container tare mass. VGM is different from cargo or gross weight currently stated on B/Ls. Estimating weight is not permitted but the shipper must weigh or arrange for weighing of packed container or its contents.
Shippers are obliged to verify the gross mass of the containers carrying their cargo by two permissible methods:
Method 1 – weighing of a packed container
The shipper may weigh the container after it has been packed and sealed
Method 2 – weighing cargo and other contents and add tare mass of container
Method 2 is subject to certification and approval by a competent authority of the State in which the packing and sealing of the container was completed. In the case where a container is packed in multiple places, certification and approval requirements shall be provided by the State where the last cargo was packed into the container. Method 2 will also not be practical for shippers of bulk commodities like scrap metal, grain, and etc.
VGM is required before loading the packed container on board a ship covered by the SOLAS requirements at its initial port of loading. The shippers need to ensure that they provide VGM for every container before the load list cut-off. Loading of a packed container without VGM would be an offense against existing SOLAS regulation.
For more detailed background and information, please refer the World Shipping Counsel.
We will keep you informed of further updates including VGM documentation requirements and communication. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact your local Nippon Express representative.