SOLAS VGM Begins Next Week: Are You Prepared?

There is substantial confusion in the industry regarding the implementation of SOLAS weight verification regulation since it is an international requirement and not regulated, overseen or otherwise guided by a single governing body. Each of the 160 SOLAS signatory countries may choose how to enforce it, and each line and terminal may choose how to implement it into their business process. While this is a global requirement and not something mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is important for you to discuss and understand what each marine carrier will require.

In short, the shipper shown on the carrier’s bill of lading is responsible for reporting the verified gross mass on their shipping documents along with an authorized “signature” in time for vessel stowage planning purposes. The carrier in turn must provide this to the terminal, which has the responsibility of ensuring that any container without a VGM is not loaded. The VGM requirement will go into effect on July 1, 2016.

The mandatory requirements are that the VGM be acquired in one of the two methods outlined below and the regulation further states that the VGM be stated on the shipping document and that document will be signed by a person, authorized by the shipper. Such document shall be submitted sufficiently in advance to be used for ship stowage purposes. The shipper can choose one of two ways to calculate the VGM:

  • Method 1: Weigh the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment.

  • Method 2: Weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.

Now is the time to be talking to your exporting customers, both here and abroad, and ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibility in providing – in a timely manner – the VGM of any container, or shipment that will be loaded into a container, with enough time to provide the carrier with the details.

Our experience up to now is that most carriers and terminals will require the VGM to be provided via EDI. We recognize that not all carriers or shippers have EDI capability. Therefore, we are offering our VGM portal to allow a shipper or a carrier or even a terminal to subscribe and upload or manually enter the required VGM data, and pass it either to the carrier or terminal. We are developing our solution, if you are interested in learning more about the requirement and Vilden’s VGM, contact us today for further details!