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Verified gross mass (VGM) and safety of life at sea (SOLAS)

On July 1, 2016, the new verified gross mass (VGM) requirement of the safety of life at sea (SOLAS) Convention goes into effect. As of this date, the weight of containers must be determined in accordance with SOLAS guidelines as described below.

Weight determination Method No. 1: Weighing

Weighing of the fully loaded and sealed container by the shipper or a third party appointed by the shipper using calibrated and certified weighing equipment. Often recycling stations, agricultural cooperatives such as Raiffeisen (Germany) have appropriate truck scales that offer this service for a fee.

Weight determination Method No. 2: Calculation

Sum of individual weights = weight of goods + weight of all packaging (pallets, stowage material, securing material in container) + container tare

The calculation method must be certified and approved by an authorized body. The Ship Safety Department of BG (Berufsgenossenschaft) Verkehr in Germany is responsible for implementing the SOLAS requirements. The department specifies that the gross mass can be determined by calculating the components under an existing certification (AEO ISO) if the process is documented.

For shippers who do not have this option, a procedure is still announced, which is considered certified and recognized by BG Verkehr. There will be no special approval procedures at BG Verkehr with regard to either certification or the use of weighing devices (note: this method does not apply to the loading of scrap, waste, loose grain and other bulk materials).

Time of transmission

The VGM must be transmitted to the shipowner before delivery of the full container at the seaport. The setting of the deadlines is the responsibility of the respective carrier and may well vary. The responsibility for requesting and documenting the VGM is with the unloader.

For timely notification to the shipping company, we need from you the confirmed gross mass in a paper related to the carriage together – including the following data:

  • Name and address of the shipper
  • Container number
  • Container tare weight according to label
  • Date of transmission of the VGM , as well as the weighing method.
  • Signature of an authorized person (electronic transmission is also possible)

There will be no container loading if the shipowner does not have the VGM! This can result in considerable additional costs for the charterer. Responsible for the transmission and documentation of the weight is the charterer, who is named in the bill of lading. The VGM must be available in time before loading.

For more information on the guidelines, please also visit or speak to your direct contact at O.T.S. ASTRACON.

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