SOLAS VGM Summary

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SOLAS VGM Guide

Verified Gross Mass Requirement

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Effective Date = July 1, 2016
  • Enforcement Date = October 1, 2016
  • VGM = Verified Gross Mass, which is the total weight of the container + the cargo itself
  • VGM must be submitted prior to loading the container on the vessel, or a delay in loading.  Carriers express “No VGM, No load”
  • Shipper name listed on the Master bill of lading is responsible
  • Suggestion is to submit cargo weight on the shipper’s letter of instructions
  • 2 Methods for weighing a container + one more known as the Terminal Weighing Approach
  • Under all methods, the weighing equipment used must meet certification and calibration requirements.
  • All certified container-weighing equipment currently now in use in the U.S.A. and in compliance with federal or state laws, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transportation Act and the container weight requirements in 29 CFR 1918.85(b) is allowed and considered compliant with the SOLAS regulation.
  • VGM can be submitted electronically [Scarbrough will do this for our clients]

Who created the rule?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Shipping Council, trade organizations that represent container liner companies, will require verification of container weights at origin set for July 1, 2016. The amendment created to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires the verified gross mass (VGM) of containers to be documented before they can be loaded on ships.

Who is responsible?

Simply stated, the shipper name listed on the master bill of lading.  It may include of the following parties:

  • The beneficial cargo owner (owner of the goods; the exporter)
  • The non vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) or
  • The master loader: entity that consolidates various shippers’ cargo

How to find certified weighing facilities:

Ports in USA that offer weighing services:

  • Georgia Ports Authority
  • South Carolina Ports Authority
  • North Carolina State Ports Authority
  • Port of Houston Authority
  • Port of Virginia
  • Massachusetts Port Authority

Terminal operators in the USA that offer weighing services:

  • Port Everglades
  • Port of New York / New Jersey
  • Port of Oakland
  • Port of L.A. / Long Beach

How to communicate VGM:

VGM can be submitted electronically via EDI messages called VERMAS with the code of 304, INTTRA, GT Nexus, Cargosmart, Mobileweight.com or via a carrier’s own electronic portal. Scarbrough will submit VGM for clients to the carrier.  Shippers must send their weight to Scarbrough.

How to verify Weight:

Click image to view Journal of Commerce's full infographic and weighing reference guide.
Click image to view Journal of Commerce’s full       infographic and weighing reference guide.

Two Methods for Weighing.

Method 1:  requires weighing the container after loading of all goods. Many ports are offering a weighing service at the terminal prior to loading the container on the vessel.  Shipper can also weigh container over a weigh bridge, then subtract the weight of the truck, chassis and fuel to get the weight of the packed container.

The weighing equipment used in Method 1 must meet certification and calibration requirements.  All certified container-weighing equipment currently now in use in the U.S.A. and in compliance with federal or state laws, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transportation Act and the container weight requirements in 29 CFR 1918.85(b) is allowed and considered compliant with the SOLAS regulation.

**Bulk cargo such as scrap metal, unbagged grain MUST be weighed by this method.

Method 2: requires weighing the cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the tare weight of the container, which can be found on the rear door of the container or in some cases, on the carrier’s website.

Note: No weight estimation allowed.

Terminal Weighing Approach: 

The 19 ocean carrier members of the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (“OCEMA”) strategized together to streamline the “Terminal Weighing Approach” – providing VGM at port locations.

  • South Carolina Ports Authority
  • Georgia Ports Authority
  • North Carolina State Ports Authority
  • Port of Houston Authority
  • The Port of Virginia and Virginia International Terminals
  • Massachusetts Port Authority

The Agreement became effective on Friday, June 24.

View OCEMA’s Best Practices for VGM

What is the deadline to supply the VGM to the terminal?

Deadlines differ among various carriers.  With most carriers, the VGM cut off will be disclosed with your booking confirmation.

Recent News:

 

Download Full VGM Guide (PDF)

Download VGM Declaration Form (PDF)


Question and Answers:

Commonly Asked Questions