SOLAS VGM FAQ

  1. What is Verified Gross Mass (VGM)?
    • The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) requiring all shippers to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for everypacked shipping container as a condition for vessel loading.
  2. When is the effective date?
    • This requirement will become legally effective on July 1, 2016.
  3. Who is responsible for providing the verified gross mass (VGM)?
    • The shipper named on the ocean bill of lading is responsible for providing the Carrier and the Terminal Operator with the VGM of a packed container. The VGM must be provided by the shipper for the vessel and terminal operators to arrange for safe vessel/terminal stowage plans. The carrier and the terminal operator must not load a packed container aboard vessel unless they have the verified gross mass for that container.
  4. Is there any obligation on the carrier or terminal operator to verify the VGM given by Shipper?
    • Under the SOLAS Amendment, the carrier or terminal operator are not responsible for verifying the shipper’s weight verification.
  5. What are the methods of weighing the container?
    • There are 2 major methods prescribed by SOLAS regulations.
      1. Method No. 1: Shipper may weigh the packed container by using calibrated and certified equipment. The scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment or other devices used to verify the gross mass of the container must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used, per IMO Guidelines.
      2. Method No. 2: Shipper may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses of the container’s content. Weighing equipment must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used, per IMO Guidelines.
  6. How to find the container tare weight?
    • Container Tare Weight can be found on the Weight Panel at Container Door-side.
    • Container Profile Checking is now available in our home page > Solas VGM for single and multiple search of Container Tare Weight.
  7. Which containers have to be weighed? of port of origin.
    • All packed containers that are planned for loading to vessels have to be VGM certified using one of the two regulated methods for weighing per IMO SOLAS Amendment. Some countries have regulated local policies and procedures for VGM submission and control. Many countries have published specific procedures for weighing containers / submitting VGM and those local procedures should be complied for the country of port of origin.
  8. What information should be included in the VGM submission?
    • The following information is mandatory in a VGM submission:
      1. Booking Number
      2. Container Number
      3. Methods of weighing (Method1/Method2)
      4. Verified Gross Mass (VGM) with unit (KGS / LBS)
      5. Responsible Party (Shipper named on the bill of lading)
      6. Authorized responsible person
  9. How to submit the VGM?
    • Many countries have published specific procedures for weighing containers / submitting VGM and those local procedures should be complied for the country of port of origin.
    • In general, BL shippers may submit VGM to our local offices via email before VGM cut off time. Other EDI and E-commerce solutions are being developed now and will be ready soon.
  10. What is a VGM cut-off?
    • VGM Cut off is published by local offices on Local VGM notice or Booking Confirmation per different agreement with terminals.
  11. Will late VGM submission be accepted?
    • VGM Cut off time should always be observed and complied with per local practice. Late VGM will not be accepted in general and boxes will not be loaded while all related costs to be on shipper’s account.
    • Emirates Shipping Line is still liaising with all terminal partners for the best flexibility on VGM Cut off time, Late VGM Submission and VGM Amendment.
  12. Can amendments be made after declaration?
    • It depends on the local procedures as agreed with terminals. Please refer to the Local Notice distributed by our Local office for VGM Amendment procedure and Amendment fee. Besides, the shipper is responsible for any associated risks and consequences on the VGM amendment.
  13. Can shipper entrust a third-party to declared VGM?
    • Shippers may declare themselves or authorized a third-party and a proper written Authorization is required.
  14. What happens if VGM is not provided?
    • “NO VGM, NO LOADING” – If no VGM has been provided, the container shall not be loaded on the vessel. All cost, risk, and liability thus incurred due to no VGM shall be borne by shipper.
  15. What is the penalty for not complying with the new regulation?
    • Regulatory penalties will be defined by individual national legislations. Per ground rule of “No VGM, no Loading”, shipper is fully responsible for all regulated penalties, operational / administrative costs and any related liabilities due to incompliance of VGM regulation.
  16. What is the tolerance of VGM declared by the shipper?
    • Tolerance of VGM is not mentioned in IMO regulation. Different tolerance level has been set up at individual countries or terminals. Please refer to local regulations for the actual control. In general, some countries have set the tolerance level at not exceeding ±5% or 1 ton (whichever is the smaller).
  17. How to handle Intermodal and transshipment containers?
    • VGM submission should be taken at the First Port of Loading. VGM of transshipment units are also mandatory per IMO regulation and in general carriers will relay the VGM record to transshipment ports. Further weighing at the transshipment port facility is not required if VGM is confirmed at First Port of Loading.
  18. Is it necessary to match VGM weight with SI weight? Which weight is to be manifested to customs?
    • Currently, SI weight is to be applied for BL and manifest unless any specific regulation by local customs. ESL as carrier is not responsible for reconciliation of VGM weight vs SI weight. It is absolutely shipper’s obligation to provide accurate information to carriers.
  19. IMO is providing 3-month time for flexibility on practical and pragmatic approach. Can ESL allow NO VGM for Loading?
    • No. IMO MSC notice is allowing 3-month time for flexibility on practical and pragmatic approach to verify VGM Compliance. Shipper’s VGM declaration is still a must and ESL will allow flexibility on the verification and procedures.
  20. Can VGM be revised after loading?
    • VGM is for the safety of operations and voyage at seas. Therefore, accurate VGM should be provided at Port of Loading before cut off. But if there are concrete reasons for amendment, ESL will consider exception but subject to approval by concerned parties, penalty and any administration costs.