Preparing for the SOLAS container weight verification requirement

With effective from July 1, 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will enforce globally the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention requirements regarding the verification of the gross weight of packed containers. Vessel carriers will not load containers without having a VGM.


As Shippers, you will be responsible for the verification of the packed container’s weight and run the risk of missing an intended sailing if the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) documentation compliance is ignored. We will provide every Shipper with a VGM document to fill out and return to us by a specified date. We will then submit to the vessel and terminal operators the exact VGM that is provided to us by the Shipper. Any variance or discrepancy in the VGM will be the responsibility of the Shipper and Vantage Logistics will not be held liable for any fines assessed due to this discrepancy.


What are the Shipper’s responsibilities?

  • The Shipper (that is the party listed on the Bill of Lading or sea waybill) is RESPONSIBLE for providing the VGM document to us BEFORE vessel loading date.
  • The VGM document will include container number, tare weight of container (this is stenciled on every container!), and total weight of all cargo loaded – including any dunnage (securing) materials (such as skids, bracing, etc). The weight amounts are to be totaled as the Gross Container Weight.
  • The VGM document must be signed by the Shipper
  • The scale used for weighing your cargo has to be calibrated / certified in accordance with local/national rules (and must be verifiable by you if weight is brought into question by carrier).


How is Verified Gross Mass (VGM) calculated?

There are two permissible methods prescribed by IMO that Shippers may use to determine the container weight of a packed container;

  • Method 1: Weighing the entire container after it has been packed using calibrated and certified weighing equipment. If a weighbridge is used, you must subtract the weight of the truck, chassis and fuel to get the weight of the packed container.
  • Method 2: Weighing all the contents of the container (including pallets, packing material, etc.) and adding it to the container tare weight that is written on the door of the container. Cargo must be weighed using calibrated and certified weighing equipment.

No estimates are allowed in either method.


Will the port accept containers without the VGM?

Origin ports in Viet Nam: there is no clear instruction from Viet Nam Ministry of Transportation yet.

International ports: most of them will not accept.


What about less than container load (LCL) shipments and containers that are not loaded by the Shipper?

A VGM submission is required for all ocean shipments. The responsibility for providing the carrier the VGM for the container remains with the Shipper. However, if consolidator do the LCL consolidation, they will weigh the cargo and provide the VGM to the vessel operator.