What is SOLAS?

SOLAS stands for “International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea”. It exists already since 1914. This first version was passed in response to the Titanic disaster in 1912. Since then there had been several versions and since 1948 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) develops and maintains SOLAS.

What is the Container VGM?

VGM stands for Verified Gross Mass and refers to the total weight of the cargo (cargo weight, loading material/pallets/skids, dunnage, securing material, tare weight of the container).

What are the basic requirements?

The Shipper has to provide to the ocean carrier the Verified Gross Mass (Weight) of the Container, including cargo weight, weight of all loading equipment and materials, dunnage and the tare weight of the container) along with a Signature (can be electronic) identifying the person responsible for the declared weight. This information has to be provided to the CARRIER, most likely before the container reaches to the CARRIER’s port terminal.

In which countries will SOLAS/VGM be implemented?

All countries which are members of the IMO (International Maritime Organization), a United Nations Agency, MUST implement VGM. Some countries automatically adopt this new rule as a national rule or law. Others, will have additional requirements.

Why “VGM” now?

This requirement was deemed necessary in order to ensure Shippers are providing the accurate and reliable total weight of the container to the carrier for SAFETY reasons. Many accidents occurred, causing injuries to people and assets, as a result of inaccurate weight declarations.  

Who is responsible for declaring and providing the VGM?

Under the SOLAS requirements, the shipper named on the ocean bill of lading is the party responsible for providing the maritime (ocean) carrier (‘master’) and the terminal operator (‘terminal representative’) with the verified gross mass of a packed container.

A NVOCC (as Kuehne + Nagel) is the Shipper vis-à-vis the ocean carrier and; therefore, responsible to report the “VGM” to the carrier based on the VGM received from the shipper.  

How can I weight the container to provide the VGM?

Two weighing methodologies are permitted:

  • Method 1: upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or arrange a third party to weigh, the packed container.
  • Method 2: the shipper or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum up the single mass of the container’s contents.

More information and explanations are available on the WSC (World Shipping Council) website .

What is “Method 1”?

<p>Upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party weigh, the packed container.</p>

What is “Method 2”?

The shipper or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to sum up the single mass of the container’s contents.

Where can I obtain the tare weight of a container?

The container’s tare weight is shown on the door of the container. Some shipping lines have container weight information available on their websites.

As a result of repairs done to a container, wet wooden floors or other reasons, the official container tare weight might be incorrect.  

Can the container be weighted at the port terminal?

Legally and theoretically the container can be weighed at the terminal; however, not all terminals will have the infrastructure to perform this service, especially when considering the huge volume of containers passing through a terminal. Weighing the container at the port could lead to substantial congestion and delays.

What are the information that the Shipper has to provide?

The required data elements that shippers must provide to Kuehne + Nagel are:

  1. Verified Gross Mass (VGM) per container (including cargo weight, loading material/pallets/skids, dunnage, securing material, tare weight of container)
  2. Signature (name in capital letters for EDI) of the authorized person declaring the weight and company details.
  3. Additional information and/or documents, if required by relevant state (government) authorities.

What is the deadline to submit the VGM to Kuehne + Nagel?

Kuehne + Nagel’s VGM cut-off time will vary from port to port, as the enforcement of the VGM rules remain with the local state (government) authorities responsible for maritime affairs.

What if I (Shipper) forget to submit the Container VGM?

Kuehne + Nagel is constantly monitoring the VGM status through alerts to ensure the timely submission of the VGM to avoid the possibility of “do not load”.

One of our Seafreight experts will contact you in case of missing VGM.

What are the consequences if I don't submit the VGM?

The carrier and the terminal operator must not load a packed container aboard a ship unless they have the verified gross mass for that container.

When Kuehne + Nagel is loading a FCL on behalf of the Shipper, who is responsible for reporting the VGM?

In this scenario, Kuehne + Nagel is acting as a contractor (warehouse operator or similar function) loading and weighing the container on behalf and in the name of the actual shipper; however, the actual shipper named in the carrier’s B/L or SWB is responsible and liable for reporting the VGM to the carrier.

Kuehne + Nagel limits its liabilities vis-à-vis the shipper on the basis of its terms and conditions and/or separately agreed customer contract.  

Who is responsible for monitoring or “policing” “SOLAS VGM”

Government agencies/authorities, like the Coast Guard in the United States, The Maritime & Coastguard in the U.K. are responsible for ensuring that Shippers comply.