Frequently asked questions
Everything you really need to know about our services
- What happens if no VGM is supplied?
- From 1 July 2016 it will be illegal for shipping lines and terminal operators to load containers onto the ship without a VGM. Therefore, the container will not be loadead if a VGM cannot be shown.
- As a shipper, what are my two methods of acquiring VGM?
Method 1: Take a loaded container over a weighbridge then subtract all weight not associated with the container (i.e. the weight of the truck, chassis, driver and fuel) to get the weight of the packed container.
Method 2: Add the weight of the container and all other items/cargo that are loaded into the container - including its packaging, palleting, dunnage and all otherpacking and securing materials.
- As a shipper what am i required to do?
- Provide a document, paper or electronic, signed by you the shipper tothe shipping line declaring that you can verify the weight and that it was weighed using one of the two methods allowed.
- When does the new VGM regulations take place?
- The new regulations is effective from July 1st , 2016.
- Who requires the new rules?
- IMO's international convention for the safety of life at sea (SOLAS) requires that every container's gross mass is verified with a signature, and submitted to the carrier in time to be used in the ship’s stowplan. Please confer with your carrier regarding their exact deadlines.
- In which countries does VGM apply?
- The requirements apply in all 171 IMO member countries, and the 3 associated members.
- Who is responsible for the VGM?
- The shipper is responsible to obtain and document the verified gross mass of a packed container. The carrier is responsible to obtain the verified gross mass of the container in advance of vessel loading.
- Is a container allowed on a vessel without VGM?
- No, a container must have a VGM.
- Is there an agreed format to communicate verified gross mass?
- SOLAS does not mandate any particular form of communication between the parties exchanging the verified gross mass information. Subject to any additional national requirements, the information provided by the shipper is the same for both Method 1 and Method 2, being the verified gross mass of the packed container, conspicuously identified as such, signed and dated by the shipper or a person duly authorized by the shipper.
- How can VGM be shared?
The information and signature may be transmitted electronically, and the signature may consist of the last name of the responsible person in capital letters. Several existing EDI messages have been amended by SMDG (Ship-planning Message Design Group) and a new EDI message VERMAS specifically in relation to verified gross mass has been developed. Further information is available from SMDG http://www.smdg.org.
- Is there a deadline for when the information must be received by the carrier and the terminal operator?
- Verified gross mass is required in order to prepare the stowage plan of the ship prior to loading. Deadlines will differ according to a number of factors; shippers should obtain information on documentary cut-off times from their carriers in advance of shipment. It is recognized that ‘just in time’ shipments will need specific coordination between the shipper and carrier to ensure that the objectives of SOLAS are met and the verified gross mass for such shipments is communicated and used in the ship stowage plan.
- What are the consequences of not providing VGM? Are there penalties?
- As the container without VGM may not be allowed to gate in at the terminal, delays or even extra charges might occur if the container is refused entry to the terminal yard. These charges might involve repacking cost, administration fees, demurrage charges etc. Some countries may also levy fines or other penalties for failure to provide an accurate VGM that is within prescribed tolerances.
- Does cargo have to be re-weighed if there is a change of vessel?
- No, VGM is only required at the time of original load from July 1, 2016 and forward. If the shipment is being transferred to another vessel, initial VGM will be used at the transshipment port (this process will be managed between carriers).
- Can containers without VGM be accepted by the terminal?
- Yes, terminal will accept full container gate in without VGM. However, terminal will not consider containers without VGM for stowage planning (BAPLIE) and loading.
- Can the shipper authorize a third party to submit the VGM declaration?
According to SOLAS VGM requirements, the shipper, identified on shipping documentation, or a party authorized to submit on their behalf, is responsible for providing the carrier with the verified gross mass for a loaded container.
A third party authorized by the shipper can submit VGMs; this authorization is to be defined in business/ commercial relationships between the shipper and the authorized party (e.g., through a power of attorney or similar legal arrangement).
- Who is responsible for the VGM if submitted by a third party?
- Even if an authorized party provides the VGM, the shipper remains responsible for the information provided to the carrier.
- How will VGM cut off date/times be known?
- Since VGM information is used to plan stowage of the vessel, it must be submitted in advance to allow carriers to create the stowage plan. VGM cut off times may vary by carrier and/or port and should be checked at the time of shipment planning. Carriers are notifying customers of their VGM cut-off time policy and most will also communicate this in the booking confirmation process.
- Do I have to confirm my selected weighing method based on my specific type of cargo?
- No, it is not necessary. You are free to decide the weighing method on your own. However, there is a guideline from SOLAS that types of cargo items that do not easily lend themselves to individual weighing of the items prior to packing in a container should be reported following Method 1. The key is to select a weighing method that can provide an accurate gross weight of the container.
- Beyond a ‘do not load’ order, are there any other penalties if the VGM is not submitted?
- Yes, though the penalties are subject to country specific guidelines. Several countries have already indicated there will be a fine for incorrect reporting. Also, several terminals have indicated that there will be additional charges if the container has to be weighed again or unloaded from the vessel due to the weight discrepancy.
- Where can i find more information about VGM methods
The following document from IMO provides details on VGM methods. http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Safety/Cargoes/Containers/Pages/Verification-of-the-gross-mass.aspx
- The requirement is for accurate gross mass; is there a margin of error defined for this 'accuracy'?
- The SOLAS regulations provide that verified gross mass shall be obtained under both Method 1 and 2 by using weighing equipment that meets the applicable accuracy standards and requirements in the country in which the equipment is being used. Those national standards and requirements will determine the acceptable level of accuracy of the weighing equipment used. There is no provision in SOLAS for any margin of error; this is a physical weighing requirement, not a system of estimation. Gross mass derived using compliant equipment and procedures will meet the legal requirements.
- Is there a requirement for 'accuracy' standard?
There is no single international weighing equipment accuracy standard at present although the International Organization of Legal Metrology has issued recommendations for various types of weighing equipment. For example, EU Directive 2004/22/EC on measuring instruments provides guidance within the European Union in relation to automatic weighing instruments. Similar guidance exists for non-automatic weighing instruments and many countries and regions will have enacted legislation and standards to cover such equipment.
Accuracy refers to the precision with which a measurement (in this case mass) is made. Accuracy is the only concept with which the shipper need be concerned.
National enforcement agents may exercise discretion or tolerance in deciding when to initiate further investigations or penalty action. However, shippers using compliant weighing devices and processes will obtain values that are well within any tolerances adopted nationally for enforcement purposes. Shippers not using compliant weighing devices and processes may be found in violation even if the gross masses that they provide fall within government enforcement tolerances.
- Can I guess my container VGM?
- If a shipper is merely estimating the gross mass and hoping to fall within government enforcement tolerances, it is violating the SOLAS requirements and could incur sanctions or delays pursuant to applicable national legislation. There are no exemptions from the requirement to weigh using either Method 1 or Method 2.
- If goods are put onto a feeder ship from another country, will verified gross mass have to be established at the start, at the in-between point or both places?
- Verified gross mass is required before loading the packed container on board a ship covered by the SOLAS requirements at its initial port of loading, unless driven onto a ro-ro ship on a chassis or trailer. Thus, in this question, the verified gross mass must be determined prior to loading aboard ship at the first country.
- Does VGM need to signed and stamped by a weighing point to be acceptable?
- There is no requirement under SOLAS that a weight ticket or similar must be provided. What SOLAS requires is that the shipper communicates the verified gross mass in a shipping document that can be part of the shipping instructions or be a separate communication. In either case, the document should clearly highlight that the gross mass provided is the verified gross mass, and the document must be signed by a person duly authorized by the shipper (the signature may be an electronic signature or may be replaced by the name in capitals of the person authorized to sign it).
- Who will pay for carrying out the weighing process?
- Since the shipper is legally responsible to obtain and provide the verified gross mass, it may be expected that any third party service provider gets re-imbursement of the cost of weighing.
- What does the new VGM legislation aim to accomplish?
This regulation will significantly increase safety and transport quality for all players in the supply chain. All parties benefit from the new rules:
Shippers: Reduced risks of damages to their cargo
Carriers: Increased safety for crew and vessel by improved stowage. Time savings by reduced re-stows and avoidance of last minute cancellations
Terminals: Enabling for a better pre-stow, improved and accelerated dispatch and minimized last minute changes.
- Where can i find more information about container marks and container codes:
The following page explains all container markings and codes:
- Our company only ever provides part loads/less than container load (LCL), never a full container load (FCL) so what is our position?
- Please contact your shipper to inquire who is providing the full container load. VGM always applies to the weight of the whole container and part loads are never considered.
- How are containers weighed at CMP terminal (the process)?
- Containers arrive at CMP as normal. After gate-in the container gets off loaded and stored. During this procedure we weigh it and verify its VGM against data in the system. All weighing data is sent to our CMP-VGM service website where VGM weight certificates can be bought for clients who need their VGM or need to update their VGM data in the system.
- What happens at CMP if my VGM is missing or wrong?
- CMP is not responsible for your VGM. Missing or inaccurate VGM can lead to a container not being loaded therfor it is essential to always provide accurate VGM. CMP offers a container weighing service where you can buy a certificate with the accurate weight of your container. This weight can be used to update missing or inaccurate VGM data in the system.
- Is the VGM regulation new?
- The new regulation simply re-instates the existing rule which obliges the shippers to provide the correct container weight. What is new is that containers are not allowed to be loaded onto vessels any longer unless the weights are verified.
- Why is exact VGM important for shipping lines?
- It is important to make sure that the vessels are stowed correctly in order to prevent accidents both at sea and in ports.
- What if the new regulations are not followed?
- Containers which will be loaded onto vessels after 1st of July 2016 and which are not weight verified may not be covered by the shipping line’s maritime insurance. The vessel may not be considered sea worthy. The shipping line therefore have a vital interest to load only containers which are weight verified.