SOLAS Container Weight Requirements – Effective July 1, 2016

The international treaty known as the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) affects all shipment by water effective July 1, 2016.

SOLAS requires the filing of a Verified Gross Mass or weight (VGM) as a condition of loading your cargo on board the vessel.

No VGM on file – no movement of your cargo!

SOLAS-VGM requires that every container’s gross mass be certified with the shipper’s signature, and submitted to the carrier in time to be used in the ship’s stowage plan. The rule is intended to eliminate overweight and misdeclared container weights to ensure the safety of the ship and cargo at sea and the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore.

Unfortunately, the ocean carriers and most of the national authorities have been slow to provide specific guidance on how this process is to be implemented. What is clear is that on July 1, 2016 the rule becomes not just international law under the IMO but national law within the 162 countries that are signatories to the SOLAS convention. The shipper named on the ocean bill of lading or sea waybill is the legally responsible party required to provide the ocean carrier with the verified gross mass (VGM) of a packed container before the container can be picked-up or delivered to a terminal or carrier.

NOTE: SPEED GLOBAL SERVICES, is not the shipper named on our direct import ocean bills of lading or sea waybills. The shipper and legally responsible party is the vendor, manufacturer, supplier or other authorized agent on whose behalf the contract of carriage has been entered into with the ocean carrier. The responsibility for providing the VGM remains with the shipper under all circumstances.

All bookings made with Speed Global Services in all countries on and after June 17th, 2016 will require a Shipper VGM Declaration.

The SOLAS amendment provides two methods shippers may use to determine the container weight once the container packing process has taken place.

  • Method 1 is weighing the container after packing (must only include the weight of the container and its contents). Method 1 requires either weighing the packed container at a certified, calibrated scale or weighbridge or weighing the packed container already mounted on a truck and subtracting the truck and chassis weight.
  • Method 2 is weighing all cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight. The tare weight is the weight of an empty container. Tare weight is marked on the exterior of every container, usually on the rear doors or sides. Shippers should use only the tare weight number marked on the individual container being used.
SOLAS Container Weight Requirements – Effective July 1, 2016

If you require assistance with obtaining the VGM you will need to submit your request to us in writing.  Additional fees will apply.

***On July 1, 2016 no container(s) will be loaded on a vessel without a VGM. No ocean carrier will load a container without a verified gross mass declaration (VGM). ***

The completed and signed form must be submitted to our office as soon as possible.  The VGM form must be sent ready for submission to the carrier no later than the time a container is completely packed and ready for pick-up. Effective July 1, 2016 no container will be released for pick-up and delivery to a carrier or terminal without a VGM.

Any delay, added cost or penalties on or after July 1, 2016 due to a missing, incomplete or inaccurate VGM will be at the shipper and/or vendor’s expense.

Please contact us by email or by phone if you have any questions.