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Verified Gross Mass of containers required

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to require that a packed container’s gross weight is verified by weighing before the container can be loaded on board a vessel.

Effective from 1st July 2016, a packed container will no longer be allowed to be loaded on board vessels unless its Verified Gross Mass (VGM) has been provided by the shipper to the carrier (i.e. master’s representative) and port terminal representatives sufficiently in advance for planning the stowage.

The objective

To ensure maritime safety and reduce risks to cargo, containers, and all those involved in container transport throughout the supply chain.

When it is applied

This convention applies to all vessels when the route is over 600 nautical miles, from the starting point to the finish.

Finnlines’ routes

– Naantali-Långnäs-Kapellskär
– Travemünde-Malmö
– Hanko-Gdynia
– Hanko-Rostock

are exceptions to the 600 nautical mile rule, and providing VGM for containers carried on wheeled units is not mandatory.

For all the other routes shipper need to provide VGM as a prerequisite to have their container loaded onboard the vessel.

The requirement for correctness of weight and any other information provided relevant to safety still remains on all routes.

In practice

The weight can be determined either by weighing the container or by summation of the weighed contents of the container (cargo, weight of pallets, dunnage (items used to secure the cargo etc.) and the tare weight of the container, as marked on unit.

Verification of weight has to be done with calibrated and certified equipment or using a certified method approved by competent authority in the State in which packing of the container is completed.

The VGM has to be submitted signed by a person duly authorised by the shipper.

Additional to the VGM, the traceability of the source of information (time, place, equipment) is relevant, in order to address responsibility and corrective action to the origins of errors.