New SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirements
New SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirements

Solas container weight verification : load and roadway of full container

April 19th, 2016

Bolloré Logistics wishes to inform its customers that an amended container weight verification regulation as outlined by the “Safety of Life at Sea” Convention (SOLAS) under the request of “The International Maritime Organization” (IMO) will enter into force globally on July 1st, 2016 and will apply to all exporting countries.

​As the Shipper (party identified as the shipper on the bill of lading) you will be responsible for reporting systematically the exact weight, referred to as the “Verified Gross Mass” (VGM) of the container(s) before entering the port terminal or run the risk of missing an intended sailing if the VGM documentation compliance is ignored. All incurring costs due to non-compliance will be charged to the shipper. The VGM regulation will impact the communication, infrastructure and processes of all participants in the supply chain.

Considering this new regulation applicable date, we suggest to start this VGM declaration procedure as of June, 13th, 2016, in order to capture all consignments departing on vessels as of July, 1st, 2016. Details on the declaration procedure (data format) expected from the shippers will be communicated soon. Our teams globally are closely cooperating with partner carriers, in order to have standards and processes in place.


Major accidents resulting from overweight containers have prompted the international shipping community to take action in order to prevent incorrect weight declarations. The IMO in collaboration with industry representatives has therefore adopted specific rules as part of the SOLAS Convention. The purpose of the VGM requirement is to obtain an accurate gross weight of packed containers so that vessel and terminal operators can prepare vessel stowage plans prior to loading cargo on ships.

What is the Verified Gross Mass (VGM)?

VGM is the shipper’s declared total gross mass of a packed container (standard containers, tank containers, flat racks and bulk containers). It must include all packages and cargo items, all additional lashing and bracing equipment (e.g. packing materials) and the container’s tare weight.

VGM is a specific maritime requirement and therefore may not interfere with the Gross Weight mentioned both on shipper’s packing list and on the bill of lading. Those measures are similar and used for import clearance declaration at destination.

How can the VGM be determined?

There are two ways to determine a VGM in accordance with the new SOLAS regulation:

  1. The shipper (or a designated third party) weighs the container with an approved device after it has been stuffed and sealed.
  2. The shipper (or a designated third party) weighs each item to be stuffed in the container with an approved device (goods, pallets, packaging and fixing materials, and other elements and materials intended for the securing of goods), adding to the sum of these weights the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container.

Who shall determine the VGM for FCL and LCL? 

As the shipper for FCL, you are responsible for providing the VGM in order to meet the SOLAS regulatory requirements. You can declare the VGM together with the shipping instructions to Bollore Logistics and shall do so sufficiently in advance.

For all FOB traffics, the shipper is responsible for proper VGM declaration. Fees which may arise from lack or improper declaration of VGM, will be payable by shipper. In case of non-payment of these fees by shipper, escalation will be made to consignee.

In case of LCL, Bolloré Logistics or Bolloré Logistics as agent for TSL is the shipper in front of the carrier. Consequently, we will be responsible for providing the VGM to the carrier and will weigh each item to be stuffed into the container. However, it is still the shipper’s responsibility to provide an accurate gross weight for each shipment under a TSL bill of lading. Bolloré Logistics reserves the right to raise weighing fees which amount will be announced in due course.

Process Summary:

  • The shipper is responsible for providing the VGM for each container to Bolloré Logistics in case of FCL, or an accurate gross weight for each shipment in case of LCL. In both cases, this must be done before entering the Port Terminal. Such declaration will have to be transmitted either electronically or through a written notice and following a standard form duly signed by a declared authorized party from the Shipper.
  • The VGM consists of cargo weight including packaging plus dunnage (securing) materials plus tare weight of container.
  • Container means standard containers, tank containers, flat racks and bulk containers.
  • For LCL mode, Bolloré Logistics as agent for TSL is the shipper in front of the carrier and, therefore, and is therefore responsible for providing the VGM to the carrier. Our declaration will be based on the accurate gross weight of each individual LCL shipment.
  • The data to be provided to Bolloré Logistics must consist of the VGM and the shipper’s (individual’s) authorized signature.
  • The scales used for weighing has to be calibrated/certified in accordance with requirements.
  • There are two methodologies for calculating the VGM:
  1. Weigh the packed/laden container
  2. Weigh all packages, packaging and dunnage material and add the tare weight of the container
  •  Carriers WILL NOT LOAD containers without having VGM.

General Information:

The implementation of the SOLAS VGM is very dynamic due to local conditions and requirements, infrastructures challenges and its global scope. The container tare weight is printed on the container and some carriers make this information also available on their web sites. A VGM weight tolerance is to be determined by each country. Most countries have not yet published this information in any official way. The shipping industry and Bolloré Logistics are working on global standards for electronic transmission of required data.

The application of SOLAS regulations at this stage is still raising numerous questions, related to the implementation process (lack of suitable weighting equipment in ports/warehouses, time lost before cut-off…) as well as to the responsibility of the freight forwarder for FCL laden at shipper’s premises.

Bolloré Logistics is following closely the subject with the various stakeholders concerned and will keep its valuable customers informed in due time.

You are invited to follow the news on this subject on our website at:

Jean-Pascal NAUD
Front Office VP

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