The SOLAS VGM regulations explained

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A loaded shipping container being weighed and lifted at the port of loading.

Updated Verified Gross Mass regulations enforce strict procedures for shippers

The SOLAS VGM is a strict global regulation enforced by the International Marine Organization (IMO).  The SOLAS regulations were updated to ensure that shipper’s correctly declare the total verified gross mass of shipping containers ready for export.  These new regulation places responsibility onto the shipper of the cargo to ensure that the gross mass of loaded shipping containers are correctly weighed and verified within important safe weight limitations.

Why were SOLAS regulations updated?

In the past shippers have misdeclared the gross weight of containerized cargo which has lead to catastrophic consequences.  Overloaded shipping containers has caused accidents involving trucks, trains and vessels along the supply chain. Massive damage and loss of life has been directly related to misdeclared gross weight of shipping containers.  The updates to the regulations came into effect on 1st July 2016.

Verified Gross Mass Explained

How can shippers accurately weigh loaded containers to comply with SOLAS VGM?

The gross mass of loaded shipping containers must be recorded and verified before they can be loaded onboard a vessel for export.  Every container that is being shipped must individually be weighed and verified. There are 2 approved methods that must be used to declare the verified gross mass:

Method 1 – The packed container is weighed by an accredited weigh bridge

Shippers can request the freight forwarder or shipping agent to send the loaded container by truck to an accredited weigh bridge.  These weigh bridges are usually situated close to ports to allow trucks to be weighed before moving the containers directly to the port. If the container’s gross mass is within regulations then the data will be submitted to the carrier and truck will deliver the container to the port.  In doing so, the cost of this process will be on-charged to the shipper, and the forwarder or agent can provide the Verified Gross Mass Certificate.

Method 2 – The shipper calculates and declares the total Verified Gross Mass

The shipper can make their own declaration of Verified Gross Mass.  To do so, the shipper must accurately record the weight of cargo, dunnage and packaging materials used to load goods inside shipping containers.  The cargo weight, dunnage/packing materials and container tare weight are added together to get the total verified gross mass.

Cargo Gross Weight + Container Tare Weight = Verified Gross Mass

The shipper must then provide a Verified Gross Mass Declaration.  This document declares the verified gross mass.

How to create a Verified Gross Mass Declaration Document

Shippers must provide a VGM document before the containerized goods can be recveived at the port of export or loaded on board a ship.  As mentioned above, there are 2 methods to declare the Verified Gross Mass.  It’s important for shippers to understand that if you have the facilities to weigh or know the mass of the goods you are loading into your containers, you can use Method 2.  When Method 1 is used, freight forwarders or agents are oncharging costs of anywhere from $50-$150 to provide the VGM using Method 1.  So if you understand the weight of your goods, you can create your own Verified Gross Mass declaration.  Watch how shippers use IncoDocs to create compliant Verified Gross Mass Documents at no cost.

What information is required on the Verified Gross Mass Declaration document?

A Verified Gross Mass document template must include the below details:

  • Shipper’s (exporter’s) company name, address and contact details
  • Shipper’s reference number
  • The Method used to verify the gross mass (Method 1 or Method 2)
  • The verified gross mass (kg)
  • Container Number
  • Vessel Name and voyage
  • Place and date of issue
  • Signatory company name
  • Name, date and signature of authorized company representative
Verified Gross Mass template declares the total gross weight of containers exported
Verified Gross Mass Declaration created using IncoDocs

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