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What You Need to Know About the New Container Weighing Regulations

Posted June 28, 2016

Under the new International Maritime Organization (IMO) amendments to its International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations, due to come into force later this week (July 1st), every export container must be accompanied by a verified gross mass (VGM) document, delivered to the shipping line, confirming the weight of an export container before it can be loaded on a vessel.

To help smooth implementation of the new container weighing regulations, an industry coalition comprised of the World Shipping Council (WSC), the TT Club, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), and the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF), last December jointly released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to address an extensive range of concerns that had been raised by affected stakeholders about the new requirements.  

This week, the coalition has published a Supplementary FAQ as a follow-up to its initial document which includes new questions and answers as well as expanded answers to some of the questions listed in the December FAQs. As such, this document does not introduce new interpretations or approaches, but seeks to provide further assistance in explaining the SOLAS VGM requirements by building on existing guidance material. 

Some of the supplementary FAQs explain in more detail how the SOLAS container verified gross mass requirements should be fulfilled in various circumstances as described in questions received from supply chain parties. Other supplementary FAQs are intended to give additional information regarding the two methods that may be used under the SOLAS VGM requirements to obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container. 

The Shipping Federation of Canada has also recently developed a comprehensive Guidance Tool to assist stakeholders in understanding the roles and responsibilities arising from the VGM requirement and provide a framework for ensuring compliance within a Canadian context.

The document covers the following elements:

  • Regulatory responsibilities associated with the SOLAS VGM Requirement
  • Format of VGM transmission
  • Timing of VGM transmission
  • Containers arriving at the terminal with no VGM or inaccurate VGM
  • Transport Canada regulatory enforcement
  • Compliance expectations as of July 1, 2016
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