Container Weights

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Effective July 1, 2016, any shipping container leaving from any port in the world must be accompanied by a shipping document signed either electronically or in hard copy by the shipper on the bill of lading listing the verified gross mass of a container in order to be loaded onto a ship. The container weight mandate from the International Maritime Organization under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention comes after misdeclared weights contributed to maritime casualties such as the breakup and subsequent beaching of the MSC Napoli on the southern U.K. coast in 2007 and the partial capsizing a feeder ship in the Spanish port of Algeciras in June, 2015.

The weighing must be done in one of two approved ways, called Method 1 and Method 2, on scales calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weighing was performed. Many of finer points of the new regulation have not yet been finalized, such as enforcement, and what happens to a container that arrives at a port without the necessary documentation or if the VGM (verified gross mass) declaration for a container turns out to be false or incorrect. is dedicated to providing shippers, carriers, forwarders, ports and others with extensive, authoritative coverage of what will be the one of the largest challenges facing the container shipping industry globally in 2016. See this extensive, continuously updated Q&A covering the range of issues that shippers, carriers, 3PLs and terminals need to be aware of as the implementation date approaches.

Container Weights Mandate Infographic:


News & Analysis

The rollout of the Safety of Life at Sea verified gross mass mandate in India has seen clashes between shippers, terminal operators, and regulators.
03 Oct 2016
India’s Directorate General of Shipping has extended its grace period for shippers to be fully compliant with the Safety of Life at Sea verified gross mass mandate.
03 Oct 2016
Maritime authorities around the world are expected to more vigorously scrutinize shipments to ensure their compliance with the International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea container weight mandate.
29 Sep 2016
Concerns still remain on the holdouts, IT issues, and accuracy of declarations related to SOLAS container weight rule.
07 Sep 2016
Shippers using the DP World terminal at Cochin forced the terminal to abandon its efforts to charge them for SOLAS verified gross mass, or VGM, compliance.
Shippers and the Directorate of General of Shipping are unhappy with how some container terminals have been handling container weighing to comply with SOLAS.
29 Aug 2016
India’s maritime administrator is showing no sign of backing down from its previous diktat barring container terminal operators from offering container weighing services on-site for a fee.
15 Aug 2016
Private terminal operators in India, especially those at major public ports, are extremely peeved that they have been shut out of the process tied to providing the verified gross mass, or VGM, of export containers to shippers.


U.S. marine terminals’ last-minute rallying around existing container weighing services, global operators’ weighing services for those exporting outside the U.S. and a regulatory grace period made the rollout of International Maritime Organization's SOLAS akin to the much-feared but innocuous Y2K. 

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