Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Container Weight Verification

On the 1st of July 2016, the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) new Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) VGM regulation, requiring the mandatory weighing of all containers before they are loaded aboard ship, takes effect. The SOLAS requirement is that the accurate gross mass of every container for shipment must be reported to the shipping line concerned at the time of submitting all other documents.

Freight Logistics

Verified Gross Mass’ (VGM)

A new Amendment to this Treaty, Verified Gross Mass means that the weight of each packed container will need to be verified. The Verified Gross Weight must include the weight of all packages and cargo items, the container tare and the weight of all additional loading equipment (e.g. dunnage, lashing, Steel wire, turnbuckles, shackles, metal frames etc.). Non-compliance with the VGM requirements will result in the container not being loaded

If a packed container is received at a port facility for export without a verified gross weight, it shall not be loaded on a vessel until a verified gross weight is obtained. Verified container weights will be used by the terminal operator and the vessel operator for the ship stowage planning.

It is the responsibility of the shipper to obtain and document the verified gross weight of a packed container. VGM should be signed by either the shipper or a person duly authorised by the shipper, electronic or e-signatures will also acceptable.

Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Methods:

Method No. 1

Upon the conclusion of packaging and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party weighs the packed container.
(E.g. using a weigh bridge)

Method No. 2

The shipper (or by arrangement of the shipper, a third party), may weigh all packages and cargo items including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses using a certified method.

The method used for weighing the container’s contents under Method 2 is subject to certification and approval by SANAS (South African National Accreditation System). The purpose of verifying weighing equipment is to ensure the equipment is accurate and complies with legislation.

It is the responsibility of the Shipper to ensure the weighing equipment is accredited by a 3rd party before the 1st July. A SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) accreditation certificate number is required by each shipper. In order to secure an authorisation number, a 3rd party of SAMSA would need to assess the overall weighing and data storage procedures for the loading, weighing and declaration process.

GLA can, at a cost, assist with Method 1 verification in cases where the shipper does not have the facilities.

As the freight forwarder, GLA is responsible to submit to the shipping line the accurate verified gross mass (VGM) data. Therefore, we will require that the Shipper submit to us a letter via email stating the SAMSA accreditation number indicating that the weight provided is the VGM, and that the letter is signed by a person duly authorized by Shipper.

GLA wishes to urge all our Export clients to take the necessary steps to prepare for meeting of the requirements of updating VGM as required by SOLAS.