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Media - The Forum on Supply Chain Risk + Compliance Management 2016

The container weight mandate from the International Maritime Organization


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) requiring shippers to provide the container’s verified gross mass (VGM) to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative before being loaded onto a vessel. All members of the IMO have to adopt these VGM rules either in their original form or with additional requirements in accordance with local/national laws or rules. The new regulation will be effective on July 1, 2016.


The Shipper (listed as shipper in the bill of loading or sea waybill) is responsible for providing the VGM to the carrier in a reasonable time prior to vessel loading.

Gross Weight (Mass) Verification Methods

The weighing must be done in one of two approved ways, called Method 1 and Method 2, on scales calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weight verification is performed.

    Method 1: Weigh the packed/laden container
    Method 2: Weigh all packages, packaging and dunnage material and add the tare weight of the container

Shipping documents signed either electronically or in hard copy by the shipper on the bill of lading listing the verified gross mass of a laden container must be provided to the ocean carrier by their cut off in order for the container to be loaded aboard a ship. Local and or national laws/rules might require additional data, processes, or documents.

For both Yusen’s FCL & LCL NVOCC services, we rely on our customers and shippers to provide us with accurate VGM details in order to provide to the ocean carrier. The responsibility for providing accurate VGM details is the actual shipper who loaded or arranged loading of container.  Any inaccuracies in VGM details are the responsibility of the actual shipper.

Expected benefits of the new regulation
Shippers: Reduced risks of damage to their cargo.

Carriers: Increased safety for crew and vessel by improved stowage. Time savings by reducing re-stows and avoidance of last minute cancellations.

Terminals: Improved terminal planning and efficiency enabling better productivity.

Deadline to provide VGM

Deadlines are not specified in the regulation. Shipper must submit VGM figures by terminal cut off date specified by the ocean carrier for their use in determining vessel stowage plan.

VGM Tolerance Levels

There is no VGM tolerance or enforcement threshold specified in the regulations but this is under consideration.  Tolerance levels mentioned but not confirmed are between 2-5%.

Regulatory Noncompliance

Laden containers received without required VGM details will not be loaded on the vessel. Governmental entities may apply fines or other penalties on violators for non-compliance with regulations.  Any fines or penalties for non-compliance with VGM regulations are responsibility of actual shipper.

Signatory countries to the IMO are tasked with implementation and enforcement of the new regulations through their national authorities.  Many governments have yet to publish their implementation and enforcement guidelines, and local enforcement may vary by country.

Points our customers need to consider:

Process for determining loaded container VGM figure
Are there calibrated weighing scales available at cargo loading origin
What documentation will be used to provide VGM figures to carriers
Who in company is authorized signatory party
Begin discussions with suppliers on their process to comply with new regulations
Increase booking lead times to allow extra processing time at origin
Consider possible routing or mode changes for critical orders post July 1

Source: Yusen logistics


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