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Mandatory maritime container weight verification takes effect July 1, 2016

May 26, 2016

At the end of 2014, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) that will require every loaded container to have a verified container weight as a condition for loading aboard a vessel. This requirement will become legally binding on July 1, 2016.

The new rule implies certification of the gross mass of containers by the shipper, either by weighing the packed container, or weighing all packages and cargo items and adding the tare mass of the container. In either case the weight must be obtained using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the country in which packing of the container was completed.

The shipper has to communicate the "verified gross mass" (VGM) to the ocean carrier before the container is loaded on the ship.

To help shippers in Canada comply with the new requirements, Transport Canada), in consultation with Measurement Canada, various stakeholder's groups and associations, released a document entitled "Canadian Procedure for Obtaining the Verified Gross Mass of Packed Containers as Required by SOLAS VI/2"

As the new requirement will apply to ocean container shipping in every country starting July 1st, governments around the world have issued or are in the process of issuing their own guidelines to their domestic stakeholders.

Container lines are also in the process of advising shippers of methods to transmit to them the verified gross mass of every container.

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