As many of you are aware beginning July 1, 2016 any shipping container that leaves from ANY port in the world is required to have the Verified Gross Mass (vgm) listed on the bill of lading. This means that the steamship lines are requiring the shipper or forwarder to verify the actual gross weight as part of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. This rule is being enforced as a result of incorrectly declared weights contributing to maritime accidents such as the beaching of the MSC Napoli in 2007 and a partial capsizing of a feeder vessel in Algeciras in 2015. Most weights are being declared electronically however it can be declared manually if necessary. We have not heard of any service interruptions since the program has started and the steamship lines have been very helpful even offering services to help the shippers and forwarders comply with the new rule.
For most customers this is not a big deal however for some it will most likely lead to the eventual elimination of super heavy containers since most states have strict over the road rules. In the past with under declared weights truckers might have been willing to look the other way however now they will have to pay closer attention since the actual weight will be reflected on the order.
The weighing must take place on scales that are calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weighing took place. We have not been told how they will enforce these regulations or even what will happen if a container arrives and has false or incorrect paperwork. For now, we will have to comply as the smaller details of the new regulation are finalized. We will most likely see either an increase in container shipping for those who will now break up a 60,000 pound container into 2 loads or maybe an increase in overweight fees by the steamship lines and truckers.

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