Container Weights

View Our IMO Container Weight Mandate Q&A here

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.

JOC.com 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.

INFOGRAPHIC: How to meet the container weight mandate

[caption]Container Weights MandateInfographic: How to prepare for
the container weight mandate. Click to Enlarge.
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Maersk joins free container weight database

Hugh R. Morley, Senior Editor | Sep 13, 2017, 2:31 PM EDT

Two of the world’s largest shipping container operators now contribute information to the database, which has more than 1,000 users.
Marine terminalsContainer lines

Indian terminals say SOLAS compliance strong

India Special Correspondent | Jun 23, 2017, 7:21 AM EDT

It has been a year since the International Maritime Organization rolled out new rules for container weight verification across the globe.
Transport, trade and regulation

Year after SOLAS rule, doubts over VGM accuracy linger

Hugh R. Morley, Senior Editor | Jun 13, 2017, 4:21 PM EDT

A year after the implementation of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirement, the once hot-button fears about the regulation have disappeared, but doubts on the accuracy of declarations linger.
ForwardingTransport, trade and regulation

India again extends deadline for full SOLAS compliance

India Special Correspondent | Dec 1, 2016, 8:42 AM EST

Indian shippers and stakeholders have a further four-month grace period to be fully compliant with the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, verified gross mass mandate.
Transport, trade and regulation

Portable scale aims to help shippers with SOLAS rule

Hugh R. Morley, Senior Editor | Nov 4, 2016, 9:43 AM EDT

A New Zealand company has launched a relatively small, portable scale designed to enable shippers to weigh a container atop a chassis, saying it will help shippers comply with new global container weight rules.
Transport, trade and regulationLogistics technology

Indian shippers get more time to meet SOLAS requirements

India Special Correspondent | Oct 3, 2016, 9:16 AM EDT

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.
Transport, trade and regulation

Forwarders, shippers says they're mostly ready for higher VGM scrutiny

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor | Oct 3, 2016, 5:30 AM EDT

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.
Container lines

SOLAS compliance high but holdouts, IT, and accuracy issues persist

Reynolds Hutchins, Associate Editor and Mark Szakonyi, Executive Editor | Sep 29, 2016, 3:12 PM EDT

<p>Concerns still remain on the holdouts, IT issues, and accuracy of declarations related to SOLAS container weight rule.</p>
Transport, trade and regulationContainer lines

Shippers foil DP World Cochin's attempt to charge for VGM service

India Special Correspondent | Sep 7, 2016, 7:56 AM EDT

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.
International ports

Indian regulator reaffirms opposition to terminal VGM fees

India Special Correspondent | Aug 29, 2016, 3:28 PM EDT

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.
Transport, trade and regulation

Indian terminal operators fume over being left out of VGM process

Special Indian Correspondent | Aug 15, 2016, 8:37 AM EDT

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.
Marine terminals

Shippers to use lobby-and-embarrass strategy to end surcharges

Reynolds Hutchins, Associate Editor | Aug 1, 2016, 5:20 PM EDT

Reports of unjustified surcharges have been on the rise following the introduction of a new mandatory container weight verification rule that took effect last month, according to the Global Shippers Forum.
Transport, trade and regulation

Government tells Indian terminals to stop charging VGM fees

India Special Correspondent | Jul 19, 2016, 8:29 AM EDT

Terminals in India's busiest port are facing heat over allegations of unnecessary container weighing to meet SOLAS.
International ports

Indian shippers latest to protest SOLAS VGM fees

India Special Correspondent | Jul 12, 2016, 7:58 AM EDT

Shippers using India’s top port are furious with new fees related to the collection and transmission of verified gross mass data.
Transport, trade and regulation

Chinese exporters struggling to meet VGM rules

Greg Knowler, Senior Europe Editor | Jul 6, 2016, 9:55 AM EDT

Kuehne + Nagel is reporting serious problems with SOLAS in China.
Container lines

Russian exporters breeze through early days of SOLAS rule

Eugene Gerde, Russia Special Correspondent | Jul 5, 2016, 10:07 AM EDT

Russian container terminals and exporters didn’t experience any disruption tied to the new SOLAS container weight rule.
Transport, trade and regulation

APM Terminals says SOLAS launches ‘without incident’

Bruce Barnard, Special Correspondent | Jul 5, 2016, 8:43 AM EDT

APM Terminals joined those in the industry reporting little disruption from the SOLAS rule.
Transport, trade and regulation

No SOLAS trouble reported at major Japanese ports

Hisane Masaki, Japan Special Correspondent | Jul 4, 2016, 9:41 AM EDT

Japan’s implementation of the SOLAS container weight rule appears to have gotten off to a smooth start.

Santos port avoids disruption despite labor action, SOLAS

Rob Ward, Special Brazilian correspondent | Jul 1, 2016, 6:46 PM EDT

<p>Shippers using South America's busiest containe port dodged two bullets.</p>
International ports

US exporters sail through first day of new SOLAS rule

Hugh R. Morley, Senior Editor , Reynolds Hutchins, Associate Editor, Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor and Joseph Bonney, Senior Editor | Jul 1, 2016, 4:41 PM EDT

Officials also credited industry organizations’ communication about the new rules and regulatory approval of a common approach by major container lines and six ports.
North American ports