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June 20, 2016/  Volume 2016, Issue 22

SOLAS - VGM Rule Update

SOLAS Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Rule Update 

Dear Valued Customer:
As you may be aware, the so-called SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Verified Gross Mass (VGM) shipper declarations will be required globally for all containerized shipments exporting on or after July 1, 2016.

In preparation for this requirement, please be guided by the following information and VGM declaration methods.

  • Scope of VGM:  All shipments packed in containers
  • How to Weigh:
Method 1:  Weigh, or arrange to have weighed, the packed container
Method 2:  Weigh, or arrange to have weighed, all packages to be stuffed into the container, including packing and securing material and add those weights to the container's tare weight marked on the door end of the container.

  • Weighing Equipment:  Must meet the accuracy standards of the USA.
  • Who Must Declare VGM:  The shipper is responsible for the VGM of a container carrying cargo and the shipper or its duly authorized representative must sign and date the VGM via either electronic interchange channels or a physical shipping document directly to the carrier, or to James J. Boyle & Co., if we are the freight forwarder for your export shipment. As the shipper, you must first submit the certified VGM to us before we can certify the VGM to the carrier on your behalf.
  • What Must be Declared:
    Mandatory Data Elements:                                Optional Data Elements:
    *Booking Number                                             *Weighting Method
    *Container Number                                           *Weighing Company Name
    *Verified Weight (VGM)                                  *Weighing Location
    *Unit of Measurement (kilos)                            *Certification Number
    *Authorized Named Individual (e-Signature)   *Company Address
                                                                               *Email Address
                                                                               *Contact Phone Number
                                                                               *Sender Name
                                                                               *Email Address
                                                                               *Contact Phone Number
  • Acceptable Methods of VGM Submission:
*Via VERMAS Message
*Via JJB's online VGM Entry Tool (CW1 Web Tracker - Contact JJB I.T. for credentials)
*Via electronic file formats (CVS, XML, XLSX, etc. - Contact JJB I.T. for coordination)
*Via written email submission containing shipper's VGM data and certification

  • Cutoff for VGM
Although many terminals may allow gate-in of containers prior to VGM receipt, others may not. Therefore, James J. Boyle & Co. requires VGM receipt 1 day prior to arrival of the container at gate to allow sufficient time for us to submit the information to the carrier. Please be informed that we are uncertain about the turnaround time for the various carriers to update their systems upon receipt of our VGM submission, the timing of which could affect whether the marine terminal will accept or turn away the containers. James J. Boyle & Co. is not responsible for any delays or costs associated with untimely VGM receipt.

  • VGM Amendments:
If an error is discovered in the original VGM submission, you may submit a request for amendment prior to the VGM submission deadline. If an amendment request is received after the cutoff, we will contact the carrier to inform them.
  • Costs for VGM Filing:
James J. Boyle & Co. will assess a VGM filing fee of $15 per shipment if LCL, or $15 per container if FCL, and $10 for any amendment requests. Since this is a new rule, the fee is subject to change depending upon the level of effort that is required to process the VGM filings. If for any reason a VGM cannot be provided, you may incur additional costs for third-party weigh and inspection fees of $25 or more per shipment or container according to other sources.
  • No Loading of Containers:
Containers may not be loaded onto a vessel if the VGM has not been received timely, or if the VGM submitted exceeds the maximum payload indicated on the Safety Approval Plate located on the container. Shippers will be responsible for any handling costs, demurrage, detention, weighing costs, repacking cost, transloading cost, storage, roll fees, terminal rehandling fees, carrier's administrative fees, etc. associated to remediating the situation.

  • Regulatory Penalties and Fines:
If any, fines will be determined by the U.S. government for U.S. exports.

  • Calls for Simplified Solutions:
At the time of this writing, there are still ambiguities regarding how shippers are expected to comply with the container tare weight aspect of the VGM declarations. Advocates in the industry, such as the Federal Maritime Commission, have called for a simplified approach.   The FMC encourages the use of the current practice of the terminals weighing the containers upon gate-in, in compliance with OSHA requirements, and forwarding the gross container weights directly to the ship master at each container line after subtracting the weight of the truck and chassis.

OCEMA stated that "Shippers availing themselves of this option would not be required to provide a signature to the ocean carrier for each container, but would acknowledge that the use of on-terminal scaling provides a VGM." OCEMA cautioned, however, that there may be operational constraints that require different processes for determining and transmitting VGM and that it will continue to evaluate ways to achieve VGM compliance in such cases.
James J. Boyle & Co. will monitor developments and update our clients with any new information as it is made known.

Additional VGM Resources:

  1. Status of national legislations:  http://www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/cargo-weight
  2. Guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo:  www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/cargo-weight
  3. Guidelines for improving safety and implementing the SOLAS container weight verification requirements:  www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/cargo-weight
  4. The IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU) and CTU Code informative materials: www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/containers
  5. VERMAS - SMDG, including the Implementation Guidelines:  www.smdg.org
  6. INTTRA - http://www.inttra.com/en/evgm-solutions
  7. GT Nexus - http://www.gtnexus.com
  8. CargoSmart - http://www.cargosmart.com/en/solutions/solas-vgm-verified-gross-mass.htm
Thank you for your patronage. If you have any questions, please contact your nearest JJB 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


The information accompanying this newsletter contains confidential information belonging to the sender which is legally privileged. The information is intended only for the use of customers of James J. Boyle & Co. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or the taking of any action in reliance on the content of this information is strictly prohibited. James J. Boyle & Co. will also not be held accountable for any discrepant information. The service we provide is based on our "Terms and Conditions of Service", which is available upon request.

You are provided this copy subject to the terms and conditions of our services.  All rights reserved.
James J. Boyle & Co., 1200 Corporate Center, Ste 350, Monterey Park, CA 91754