What are the basic requirements?

The Shipper has to provide to the ocean carrier the Verified Gross Mass (Weight) of the Container, including cargo weight, weight of all loading equipment and materials, dunnage and the tare weight of the container) along with a Signature (can be electronic) identifying the person responsible for the declared weight. This information has to be provided to the carrier, most likely before delivery to the carrier's port terminal.

In which countries will SOLAS/VGM be implemented?

All countries which are members of the IMO (International Maritime Organization), a United Nations Agency, will have to implement VGM. Some countries automatically adopt this new rule as national rule or law. Others will have additional requirements.

Why “VGM” now?

This requirement was deemed necessary in order to ensure Shippers provide the accurate and reliable total weight of the container to the carrier for safety reasons. Many accidents occurred, causing injuries to people and assets, as a result of inaccurate weight declarations.

Who is responsible for declaring and providing the VGM to the carrier?

The shipper shown on the B/L of SWB is responsible for providing the VGM declaration, signed/identified by company and individual person. This declaration can be provided in paper or electronic form.

A NVOCC is the Shipper vis-à-vis the ocean carrier and, therefore, responsible for reporting the “VGM” to the carrier based on the VGM received from its shipper.

Where can I obtain the tare weight of a container?

The container’s tare weight is shown on the door of the container. Some shipping lines have container weight information available on their websites.

As a result of repairs done to a container, wet wooden floors or other reasons, the official container tare weight might be incorrect.

Will the VGM have to be 100% correct?

Due to the reasons explained above, there is a strong demand for allowing a certain tolerance with respect to the declared VGM. Transport Canada has confirmed a tolerance of 5% but as of today, March 16th, 2016 -  5% tolerance with up to 500 kgs have been confirmed.

Who is responsible for implementing SOLAS VGM?

All nations which are member of the IMO (International Maritime Organization, which is a U.N. Agency) have to adopt the SOLAS VGM requirements. Some countries will add their own requirements with respect to the implementation and executions of the VGM.

Who is responsible for monitoring or policing SOLAS VGM?

Government agencies/authorities, such as Transport Canada (the Coast Guard in the United States and the Maritime and Coastguard in the U.K) are responsible for ensuring that Shippers comply.

How does the VGM have to be determined?

Two weighing methodologies are permitted:

Two different methods for arriving at the VGM are allowed. These methods and explanations are available on the WSC (World Shipping Council)  website.

When is weighing the actual cargo not required?

If originally sealed packages have accurate mass (weight) of the packages clearly and permanently marked on their surfaces, these packages do not have to be weighed again before being laden into a container.

Can the container be weighed at the port terminal?

Legally and theoretically the container can be weighed at the terminal. However, not all terminals will have the infrastructure to perform this service, especially when considering the huge volume of containers passing through a terminal. Having the weighing performed at the port could lead to substantial congestion and delays. See our Scale Locations for more information. 

Does the weight shown on the B/L have to be identical with the weight reported as VGM?

The purpose of the VGM is to advise the ocean carrier/terminal of the total container weight, including container tare weight, for safety purposes, most likely latest at the time container is being delivered into the carrier’s custody at the port terminal. Therefore, the VGM reported to the carrier doesn’t not have to match the weight shown in the B/L. The VGM is used by the carrier to prepare the vessel’s stowage plan.

When KN is loading a FCL on behalf of the Shipper, who is responsible for reporting the VGM?

In this scenario, KN is acting as contractor (warehouse operator or similar function) loading and weighing the container on behalf and in the name of the actual shipper. However, the actual shipper named in the carrier’s B/L or SWB is responsible and liable for reporting the VGM to the carrier.

KN limits its liabilities vis-à-vis the shipper on the basis of its terms and conditions and/or separately agreed customer contract.

Will there be a penalty system and what would be the levels? Who would be the enforcing agency?

In most cases it would be enough to penalize shippers by not loading a container onto a ship if its VGM is not provided to the ship master. Nevertheless, in case of persistent violation of the requirement to provide VGM, Transport Canada, Marine Safety and Security may apply to the shipper the penalty in the range of $600 to $12,000 in accordance with the Administrative Monetary Penalties and Notices Regulations (SOR/2008-97), under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001