The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) Chapter VI Regulation 2 to require, as a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship for export, that the container has a verified gross mass (VGM). This requirement will become legally binding on 1 July 2016. After that date, it would be a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container onto a ship if the shipping line and the terminal operator do not have a VGM for the packed container.
The Shipper is the responsible party for obtaining and documenting the VGM of the packed container. This regulation is not new. It re-instates the existing rule which obliges the shippers to provide the correct container weight. What is new is that containers are not allowed to be loaded onto vessels any more unless the weights are verified.
The SOLAS regulation prescribes two methods by which the shipper may obtain the VGM of a packed container:
After the container is loaded and sealed, the shipper may weigh, or arrange that a third party weighs the container.
The shipper may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the weights of pallets and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare weight of the container to the sum of the single masses using a certified method.
It will be the Shippers responsibility to declare the VGM of the packed container using either of method No 1 or No 2 above. The VGM should be clearly identified on the shipping documents provided by the Shipper and signed by a person duly authorized by the Shipper. The signature may be an electronic signature or be replaced by the name of the duly authorized person in block capitals.
We will communicate the VGM weight of the packed container to the container terminal and the master of the vessel in order to facilitate the safe loading of the container on board.
It is our intention that all Shipping Confirmations sent will contain a confirmation of the VGM declared for all packed containers loaded on board for shippers to retain for their records.
This circular is intended to provide some background details on the upcoming changes in the SOLAS regulations therefore allowing our customers/shippers to review their supply chains and determine the impact these changes may have.
We will provide further details closer to the implementation date about how we intend to capture the VGM data and relevant cut off times for receipt of same.
In the meantime please find below a useful link that will assist further in explaining the background to the upcoming changes.