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April 6, 2016/  Volume 2016, Issue 21

Revised SOLAS - Container Weight VGM Rule Eff. 7/1/2016


(This is a resend to correct technical issues. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.)


Dear Valued Customer:


As you may know, effective from July 1, 2016 the revised SOLAS rule goes into effect concerning the requirement for shippers to verify the gross mass (VGM) of a container carrying cargo. Without a VGM declaration by the shipper, the packed container shall not be loaded aboard ship. The rules prescribe tow methods by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container.


*Method 1, upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party 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 of the single masses of the container's contents.


*In respect of both method 1 and 2, the weighting equipment used must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used.


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


Therefore, if a shipper arranges its own bookings directly with a maritime carrier, that shipper is responsible to provide the VGM declaration to the maritime carrier.


If a shipper uses a freight forwarder to arrange a booking of a container with a maritime carrier as a back-to-back shipment listing the actual shipper (not the freight forwarder) as the shipper, that shipper is still responsible to comply with the rule, even if arrangements are made with the forwarder to pass the VGM declaration to the maritime carrier.


In the case of LTL shipments that are consolidated under a master bill of lading into a container, which lists the freight forwarder as the shipper, the freight forwarder is responsible for providing the VGM declaration to the maritime carrier. In preparation for compliance, we recommend that export shippers of maritime shipments discuss the SOLAS VGM requirements with any freight forwarders you may be using.


Some maritime carriers have announced that they will not allow containers to be laden aboard a ship unless they have received the VGM declaration. Others have indicated that they may not even allow the container to be gated-in to the terminal unless the VGM declaration was received in advance.


If you or your shippers are interested in more details about the revised new SOLAS VGM rule, please refer to the collaborative FAQ document that was issued by the World Shipping Counsel, TT Club, ICHCA International and the Global Shippers Forum (here).


Thank you for your time. If you have any questions, please contact your nearest James J. Boyle & Co. representative.



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Los Angeles

Kent Sunakoda


(323)263-8100 ext. 327


Lisa Whiles


(503)284-0909 ext. 120


Terry Pilant 


(206)447-9580 ext. 104 

San Francisco

Connie Arimoto


(650)871-6334 ext. 3130


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James J. Boyle & Co., 1200 Corporate Center, Ste 350, Monterey Park, CA 91754