In 2016, in order to improve safety in the supply chain, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) made amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention mandating all shippers to verify the gross mass of a packed export container prior to vessel loading.
Ocean shippers must provide this information in order to stay in compliance with VGM Regulations. Here’s a quick review of shipper responsibilities.
Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the total gross mass of a packed container, including the cargo weight, block and bracing materials as well as the container tare (empty container weight). The VGM must be provided by the shipper for the vessel and terminal operators to arrange safe vessel and terminal stowage plans.
There are two permissible methods outlined by IMO that shippers may use to determine the VGM of a packed container.
- The packed container may be weighed using calibrated and certified weighing equipment.
- The VGM may be calculated by adding the weight of the cargo items, packaging (pallets, dunnage, securing materials, etc.), and the container tare weight by means of certified weighing equipment.
To comply with VGM regulations, weighing equipment used for both methods must meet national certification and calibration requirements. Estimated weights are not permitted and a violation of SOLAS regulations.
As VGM submission cut-off times will most likely vary from carrier to carrier and from terminal to terminal, seek guidance from your forwarder on the specific VGM cut-off for your shipment.
In case of need, forwarders like I.C.E. Transport can assist with obtaining the VGM.