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Verification of weight of packed containers

Verification of weight of packed containers

The new global requirements on verification of weight of packed containers enter into force 1 July 2016. This implies that all vessels in question which begin a voyage in international voyages on or after 1 July shall comply with the requirements.

From 1 July 2016 all containers to be loaded onto a vessel shall be provided with a so-called verified Gross Mass (VGM). The purpose with the new provisions is to enhance safety on board container vessels and to prevent accidents such as the loss of the container vessel MOL COMFORT. It is the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which has adopted the new provisions to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).

The new requirements

The provisions shall apply to all Faroese vessels and to all containers in a Faroese port, to be loaded onto a vessel (irrespective of flag) engaged in international voyages. However, containers on chassis frames, trailers, mafi trailers and the like on ro-ro ships engaged in international voyages below 600 nautical miles and which do not operate more than 200 nautical miles off shore, are exempted.

The provisions do also apply to all containers for which the packing is finalised in the Faroe Islands. The requirements to the VGM are always in accordance with the legislation in the country where the packing of the container is finalised. The VGM is to be established by the shipper or shipping agent. In the future the VGM will differ from the current indication in the transport documents since the VGM can be established only in two ways:

1) The weighing of the containers shall be by means of a suitable weight. The shipper or the shipping agent shall weigh the containers by means of a suitable weight, which means a certified weight of at least class IV for non-automatic weights or at least class Y(b) for automatic weights. See a separate fact sheet on method 1.

2) Calculation according to a certified method. The shipper or shipping agent can weigh all packages and cargo elements, including pallets, etc. to be packed in the container and add the container tare mass to the sum. The method requires that the shipper or shipping agent has a quality management system, such as the ISO standard. See a separate fact sheet on method 2.

According to new the regulations, the shipper or the shipping agent must inform the master or his/her representative and the port terminal operator about the VGM. The container must not be loaded onto the ship until the master and terminal operator have a VGM.

It is, as a general rule, the shipper's responsibility to establish the VGM, but the terminal operator can offer to do this according to method 1. See a separate fact sheet on method 1.

It is not the responsibility of the shipper or the terminal operator to verify a VGM. When a VGM is given in a transport document, the actors in the transport chain must assume that it is correct.

The individual shipowners and terminal operators can set a deadline for receiving a VGM. In practice, it therefore depends on local conditions when the shipper/shipping agent is to inform about the VGM prior to the arrival in port and/or loading of the ship.

The new executive order will probably enter into force 1 July 2016. The FMA advises the relevant actors to prepare for establishing necessary procedures in order to fulfil the requirements prior to the deadline 1 July this year.

In fact sheets 1 and 2, two short guidelines are available on how to comply with the upcoming regulations. It is the Danish Maritime Authority and representatives from the Danish business organisations who have drawn up these guidelines.

Fact Sheet 1
Fact Sheet 2

More detailed international guidelines and FAQ on VGM are also available from these links:

Verified Gross Mass Industry FAQS

Executive Order No. 77 of 29 June 2016 on verification of the weight of packed containers