10 Key Points On Container Weighing – FAQ!



Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), the International convention which ensures that ships flagged by signatory States comply with minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation.

The International Maritime Organisation(IMO) has brought about some changes in the SOLAS regulation regarding container weight verification.  These rules are under effect from 1st july 2016.  The statement says that “Amendments to SOLAS chapter VI to require mandatory verification of the gross mass of containers, either by weighing the packed container; or weighing all packages and cargo items, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.”

Check these 10 basic SOLAS principles before loading your cargo

1. Determination of weight:

  • Every packed container must be weighed before loading onto a ship.
  • It is a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container on board a vessel to which SOLAS applies without a proper weight verification.

2. Methods for weighing:

  • Under the SOLAS weighing can be done by two permissible methods
    • Weighing the container after it has been packed, or
    • Weighing all the contents of the container and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door of the container.

The IMO Guidelines state that the second method “would be inappropriate and impractical” for “certain types of cargo items (e.g., scrap metal, unbagged grain and other cargo in bulk)” that “do not easily lend themselves to individual weighing of the items to be packed in the container.”

3. Do not provide estimated weight

The regulation do not permit the usage of estimated weights.  The shipper (or by arrangement of the shipper, a third party) has a responsibility to weigh the packed container or to weigh its contents.

4. Always use a certified Weighing Equipment

  • Every cargo must be weighed using an equipment that meets national certification and calibration requirements (details of these can be found from your local Trading Standards Office).
  • Further, the party packing the container cannot use the weight somebody else has provided, except in one specific set of defined circumstances.
  • The one exception is as follows: Individual, original sealed packages that have the accurate mass of the packages and cargo items (including any other material such as packing material and refrigerants inside the packages) clearly and permanently marked on their surfaces, do not need to be weighed again when they are packed into the container.

5. SOLAS requires signed Weight Verification

  • SOLAS requires a “signed weight verification”, meaning a specific person representing the shipper must sign and verify the accuracy of the weight calculation on behalf of the shipper.
  • A carrier may rely on a shipper’s signed weight verification to be accurate.
  • The SOLAS does not require a carrier to verify a signed verification provided by the shipper.

However, it is important to note the compliance of shipper’s weight verification procedure.

6. What if it hasn’t been signed?

  • A cargo that does not bear the signature of the shipper must be weighed at the port.
  • Incase there is no weighing machine available at the port then it is necessary to identify an alternative means to obtain weight verification.

Incase of any default in this regard, the packed container shall not be loaded onto the ship.

7. What happens if the shipper hasn’t provided the required verified gross mass of the container?

Notwithstanding that a shipper is responsible for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of a packed container, situations may occur where a packed container is delivered to a port terminal facility without the shipper having provided the required verified gross mass of the container.  Such a container will not be loaded onto the ship until its gross mass has been obtained.

8. What happens if there is any discrepancy?

Any discrepancy between a verified gross mass of a packed container obtained prior to the container’s delivery to the port terminal facility and a verified gross mass of that container obtained by that port facility’s weighing of the container, will result in the container not being loaded on board the vessel.

9. What are the consequences or penalties when a VGM (verified gross mass) is not available?

A container without a VGM should not be loaded onto the vessel until its VGM has been obtained.  In order to allow the continued efficient onward movement of such containers, the master or his representative and the terminal representative may obtain the VGM of the packed container on behalf of the shipper. This may be done by weighing the packed container in the terminal or elsewhere. The VGM obtained in this manner should be used in the preparation of the ship loading plan (please refer to Chapter 13 of the SOLAS guideline).

The shipper will be responsible for any costs that arise (e.g. weighing costs, repacking and administrative costs). Regulatory penalties will be defined by the individual national legislations.

10. Where can relevant further guidance be found?

Further guidance regarding SOLAS and the verified gross mass of a container, can be obtained from:



World Shipping Council

Source: John Good Shipping


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