New container weight rules in force from July 1

New container weight rules in force from July 1 article image

New container weight verification requirement as outlined by the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) will kick in worldwide from July 1.

Shippers will be responsible for verifying the total gross weight of any container they load – or run the risk of missing your booked vessel if the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) documentation is ignored.

Due to major incidents and accidents caused by overweight containers, The International Maritime Organization (IMO) in collaboration with industry representatives has adopted new weight verification rules as port of the SOLAS Convention.

As Australian ports are not currently equipped to deal with VGMs, no container will be shipped unless the VGM is validated prior to entering the terminal.

The main purpose of the VGM document regulation is to obtain an accurate gross weight of packed containers so that vessel’s and terminal operators can put together vessel loading and stowage plans BEFORE loading cargo containers on ships.

This requirement will protect vessel and terminal operators’ people and equipment as well as your (the shippers’) cargo.

The VGM document will be required before loading cargo onto ships. How soon this document will be required from time it is loaded at your warehouse is still at this point undetermined – however it will need to be provided before a container arrives at the port of export.

And the buck stops with the shipper. 

Responsibilities include:

  • The shipper (ie. the party listed on the Bill of Lading or sea waybill) is responsible for providing the VGM document before the vessel loading date.
  • The VGM document will include container number, seal number, number of pieces loaded, tare weight of container (this is stenciled on every container) and total weight of all material loaded – including any dunnage (securing) materials (such as skids or bracing). The weight amounts are to be totalled as the Gross Mass of the container.
  • This rule applies to all containers, tank containers, flat racks and bulk containers.
  • The scale used for weighing cargo has to be calibrated/certified in accordance with local/national rules (and must be verifiable by you if weight is brought into question by carrier).
  • There are two ways of calculating the VGM:

- Weigh the packed/loaded container after cargo is loaded.

- Weigh all packages, packing and dunnage material and add the tare weight of the container.

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