Frequently Asked Questions


1. What has changed in SOLAS?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted mandatory amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, Part A, regulation 2 – this requires packed containers' gross mass to be verified prior to stowage aboard ship.

2. When is it coming into effect?

This requirement will become effective from July 1, 2016.

3. Who verifies the Gross Mass of the packed container?

Shipper named on the ocean carrier bill of lading is the party responsible for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of a packed container. A verified container weight is a condition for loading a packed container aboard the vessel for export.

4. How is the verified gross mass of the packed container obtained?

The SOLAS regulations prescribe two methods by which the verified gross mass of a packed container may be obtained:
Method 1, which requires weighing the container after it has been packed, or
Method 2, which requires weighing all the cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container.
Estimating weight is not permitted. After verifying the gross mass of the packed container using Method No.1 or Method No.2, shipper shall communicate in the shipping document by clearly highlight that the gross mass provided is the "Verified Gross Mass".

5. When to submit the VGM?

The shipper may meet its obligation under the SOLAS regulations by submitting the verified gross mass to Swire Shipping. Information shall be communicated by Swire Shipping to the other parties in the international containerized supply chain, including the shipping companies and port terminal representative in advance of ship loading. Similarly, the shipper may also submit the verified gross mass to the port terminal facility representative upon delivery of the container to the port facility in advance of loading.

6. What happens if the VGN is not submitted?

In the absence of verified gross mass of a packed container, it would be considered an offence due non-compliance with the SOLAS and hence the container will not be loaded on to the ship.

7. What are the benefits of the Verified Gross Mass?

Parties in the international containerized supply chain, including the shippers, shipping companies and port terminal representative would be benefited.

  • Safety of the ship and the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore;
  • Reduce the risk of cargo damages;
  • Increase accuracy of ship pre-stowage plan and avoid re-stow or last min cancellations;
  • Quick turnaround of the vessel and avoid delays.

8. What are the references for party/parties to comply with this SOLAS provision?