New SOLAS container weight verification requirement

container ship

From 1 July, shipping lines will be required to meet new weight requirements under SOLAS, the international Safety Of Life At Sea convention, as safety rules are tightened for those using sea freight.

Non-compliance could be costly so what do the changes mean in practice?

As a result of recent disasters at sea where it has been proved that overweight containers have either been a prime or contributory factor to the event, the International Maritime Organisation has introduced new container weighing rules effective from 1 July 2016. From this date it will be the responsibility of both the port authority and the shipping line to obtain a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for each container before it can be stowed on the vessel.

For shippers with their own weighing facilities, the VGM can be transmitted to the port/carrier in an electronic format and International Forwarding can give guidance as to the content and format of the message.

For shippers unable to weigh containers, all major ports in the UK have announced that they will offer a box weighing service at a nominal cost. International Forwarding strongly recommends that customers take advantage of this and will assist in setting up the arrangements.

If a container arrives at a port and is found to exceed its plated carrying capacity, there will be significant costs arising from adjusting the load and in a worst-case scenario the box will have to be returned to the shipper. In addition there is every likelihood that a container found to be overweight would not be shipped on the booked vessel, resulting in delay and extra shipping costs.

Please get in touch with any member of the International Forwarding team for more information about compliance with the new SOLAS regulations. For further information on shipping by sea, visit our sea freight services page.