The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted mandatory amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The changes to the SOLAS convention become effective on July 1, 2016 and will be applicable globally. It places a requirement on the Shipper of a packed ocean container, regardless of who packed the container, to authenticate and provide the container’s Verified Gross Mass (VGM) to the ocean carrier and port terminal representatives prior to it being loaded on a ship.
The Shipper named on the ocean bill of lading or sea waybill is responsible for providing the ocean carrier and the terminal operator with the VGM of a packed container.
Verifying the gross mass of a container carrying cargo can be completed by either weighing the completely packed container or calculating the weight of all packages and cargo items individually, including packing and securing materials, and adding those weights to the weight of the container itself.
There is no specific format for providing VGM information. The VGM of the packed container should be conspicuously identified and must be part of a shipping document (booking request or shipping instruction) or communicated separately (e.g. declaration including a weight certificate). The document declaring the VGM must be signed by the Shipper or a person duly authorized by the Shipper.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
SOLAS imposes an obligation on the carrier and the terminal operator not to load a packed container aboard a ship without a VGM for that container. Non-compliance with this obligation may result in commercial and operational penalties, such as delayed shipment and additional costs to the Shipper.
The penalties may involve repacking costs, administration fees for amending documents, demurrage charges, delayed or cancelled shipments, etc. Enforcement and “policing” of the VGM rules are the responsibility of the local state (government) authorities responsible for maritime affairs.
Please refer to the links below which provide more detailed background and information: