Container Weighing Rule Mandatory July 1, 2016

As announced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) requirements under the amendments to chapter VI, of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), will become mandatory on July 1, 2016.

(The IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. SOLAS is generally regarded as the most important of all international maritime treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster. It ensures that ships flagged by signatory States comply with minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation.)

Carriers and port terminal operators in 170 countries worldwide will be prohibited from loading a cargo shipping container aboard a vessel if the container’s gross mass has not been verified.

The verified gross mass of packed cargo shipping containers will be required by the shipper, to be provided to the ocean carrier and port terminal operators, prior to loading on a vessel. The shipper will be responsible for the verification of the gross mass of a packed cargo shipping container and providing accurate information on the shipment documents, which will be used in the vessel’s container stowage plan. The verified gross mass information must be provided via 1 of the 2 methods:

Method #1: After packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh or arrange a third party to weigh the packed container.

Method #2: The shipper or a third party may weigh all cargo items, including the mass of pallets and other packing material securing the cargo in the shipping container and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses using a certified method as outlined by the IMO. Any third party that has performed some or all of the packing of the container should inform the shipper of the mass of the cargo items and packing materials that the party has packed into the container in order to facilitate the shipper’s verification of the gross mass of the packed container.

Considerable work needs to be accomplished in the next few months by industry stakeholders to answer the many outstanding operational and commercial questions by exporters, freight forwarders and NVOCC’s packing the containers, such as:

  • Where are loaded containers currently weighed? Where could they be weighed and what process changes/additional costs would this incur?
  • What are shipping line requirements with respect to cut-off times for receiving verified container weights?
  • What is an acceptable discrepancy between a container declared weight and its verified weight?
  • How will terminals handle a container arriving at their facility without a verified weight (or with an unacceptable discrepancy between its declared and verified weights)?

Contact Cargo Spectrum for more information about the mandatory weight verification of containers requirements. Need more details or have any questions about Air Cargo, Ocean Shipping or Ground Transport? Our Cargo Spectrum representatives are here to help. Call us on 1.888.273.5575 | Request a Quote | Email us at Learn more about Cargo Spectrum.