In November 2014, the International Maritime Organization adopted an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea convention (SOLAS) regarding mandatory container weight verification. The amendment applies to all member states who will, in turn, adopt it into their own national law. Each country will provide its own guidelines for the implementation.
1. The Situation
Today, weight declarations of loaded containers are not always accurate. This leads to an increased risk of accidents throughout the supply chain.
2. The Challenge
From July 1st 2016, Shippers will be required to provide the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of each shipment to their ocean carrier and the terminal operator. It remains the shippers’ responsibility to obtain and provide the VGM in accordance with
local government guidelines and before the carrier’s cut off.
3. The Implication
SOLAS rules state that if a Shipper fails to provide a VGM to the ocean carrier and the terminal operator, the container cannot be loaded onboard the vessel. In this case, the Shipper is accountable for any additional charges. Shippers may
authorise a third party to provide the VGM, however, shippers remain responsible for the process.
4. Weight Definition
VGM is determined by using the following methods:
Method 1: Weighing the packed container once all cargo has been loaded & sealed in to the container.
Method 2: by calculating the weight of the cargo (including packaging), dunnage and the container tare.
MSC recommend that shippers keep a record of VGM’s for requests by authorities.
5. Empty Container Weight (container tare weight)
The container tare weight can bechecked in two ways:
a) The tare weight is physically printed on the outside of the container doors
b) In the case of method 2, the container tare weight lookup on myMSC.com
6. Worldwide Procedures
Procedures will vary by country, please see attached document with the relevant information.
7. Government approval status
• National body in Australia is AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority).
• 50 penalty units (180AUD per unit) assigned to first offence.
• All verified weighing equipment within Australia must be certified by the National Measurement Institute (NMI).
• All container terminals have announced across the board that no container will be gated in without certified VGM.
8. What to include in your VGM instructions
The following items are mandatory and must be on all VGM instructions
• Booking number
• Container number
• Weight Calculation Method
• Verified Gross Mass
• Verification Date
• Name of Declarant
• Either Phone or Email Address
9. How to submit your VGM instructions
From 22nd June 2016, VGM instructions will be included as part of the Pre Receival Advice (PRA) submission to terminals, using the FACT website for Adelaide, and using 1‐Stop for all other terminals.
10. Deadlines for sending your VGM instructions
VGM must be declared when submitting the PRA, prior to containers being delivered to the terminal.
11. Admin Fees and costs
• Any weighbridge, transport or other cost incurred to determine the VGM is for shipper’s account.
• If shipper presents container at a terminal without having declared the VGM, the container will not be accepted, and any associated costs will be to shipper’s account.
• If a VGM is misdeclared, and shipper requests an amendment after the container has already been accepted into the terminal, the container will need to be withdrawn from the terminal and PRA resubmitted with correct VGM, before the container can be returned to the terminal. All associated costs will be to shipper’s account.
• Determine the weight calculation method that is most suitable for your cargo.
• Ensure that appropriately trained and authorized personnel are responsible for the calculation and submission of the VGM.
• Ensure that appropriate record keeping is in place.
• Register for myMSC.com for access to container tare weights if necessary.
• If any further clarification is required, please contact your local MSC office.