Back Guide to SOLAS and VGM regulations
Do you ship cargo across the world? Are you aware that as a shipper you need to provide an accurate and reliable total weight of the container to the carrier?
As a result of a number of major accidents being linked to inaccurate weight declarations of the shipping container, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with industry representatives have adopted specific rules as part of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to ensure reliable weights of containers are provided.
Under these rules, the shipper has to provide the ocean carrier with the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the Container, including cargo weight, weight of all loading equipment and materials, dunnage and the tare (weight of the container). These requirements will impact the communication, infrastructure and processes of all participants in the supply chain. Our global teams of experts are on hand to guide you through the regulations and ensure that all information is provided before any containers reach the carrier’s port terminal.
You can access your shipment and submit the VGM details to Kuehne + Nagel by using the link or QR code on your booking confirmation. This can be found on the dedicated VGM section.
There are different implementation guidelines and regulations in place across the globe.
To learn more, please see below:
- EUROPE & AFRICA
- MIDDLE EAST, ASIA AND AUSTRALIA
- World Shipping Council guidelines for implementing the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement
- World Shipping Council: SOLAS VGM Industry FAQ's
- International Maritime Organization (IMO): MSC VGM Guidelines
Want to know more? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.
If you still need more information, please get in touch with one of our experts.
What is SOLAS?
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), was introduced in 1914 in response to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed and maintained SOLAS since 1948.
What is the Container VGM?
Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the total weight of the cargo (cargo weight, loading material/pallets/skids, dunnage, securing material, and tare weight of the container).
What are the Basic Requirements of SOLAS?
The shipper has to provide to the ocean carrier the VGM of the container, along with a signature (can be electronic) identifying the person responsible for the declared weight. This information has to be provided to the carrier, most likely before the container reaches the carrier’s port terminal.
In which countries is SOLAS/VGM implemented?
All countries which are members of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) or a United Nations Agency, MUST implement VGM. Some countries automatically adopt this new rule as a national rule or law, whilst others, will have additional requirements.
This requirement was deemed necessary in order to ensure Shippers are providing the accurate and reliable total weight of the container to the carrier for safety reasons. Many accidents in which people and assets were injured, occurred as a result of inaccurate weight declarations.
Who is responsible for declaring and providing the VGM?
Under the SOLAS requirements, the shipper named on the bill of lading is the party responsible for providing the maritime (ocean) carrier (‘master’) and the terminal operator (‘terminal representative’) with the verified gross mass of a packed container.
A Non Vessel Owning Common Carrier (as Kuehne+Nagel) is the Shipper vis-à-vis the ocean carrier and therefore responsible to report the VGM to the carrier based on the VGM received from the shipper.
How can I weigh the container to provide the VGM?
Two weighing methodologies are permitted:
- Method 1: Upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or arrange a third party to weigh, the packed container.
- Method 2: the shipper or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single mass of the container’s contents.
More information and explanations are available on the WSC (World Shipping Council) website.
Where can I obtain the tare weight of a container?
The container’s tare weight is shown on the door of the container. Some shipping lines have container weight information available on their websites. As a result of repairs done to container, wet wooden floors or other reasons, the official container tare weight may vary.
Can the container be weighed at the port terminal?
Legally, the container can be weighed at the terminal. However, not all terminals have the infrastructure to perform this service, especially when considering the huge volume of containers passing through a terminal. Weighing the container at the port could lead to substantial congestion and delays so this always needs to be considered.
What information does the Shipper have to provide?
The required data elements that shippers must provide to Kuehne+Nagel:
- VGM per container;
- Signature (name in capital letters for EDI) of the authorised person declaring the weight and company details; and
- Additional information and/or documents, if required by relevant state (government) authorities.
What is the VGM submission deadline to Kuehne+Nagel?
Our VGM cut-off time will vary from port to port, as the enforcement of the VGM rules remain with the local state (government) authorities responsible for maritime affairs.
What if I (shipper) forget to submit the container VGM?
We are constantly monitoring the VGM status through alerts to ensure the timely submission of the VGM to avoid the possibility of “do not load”.
One of our sea freight experts will contact you in case of missing VGM.
What are the consequences if I don't submit the VGM?
The carrier and the terminal operator must not load a packed container aboard a ship unless they have the VGM for that container.
Responsibilities & Privacy
When Kuehne+Nagel is loading a FCL on behalf of the shipper, who is responsible for reporting the VGM?
When we act as a contractor, loading and weighing the container on behalf and in the name of the shipper, the shipper named in the carriers B/L or SWB is responsible and liable for reporting the VGM to the carrier. We limit our liabilities vis-à-vis the shipper on the basis of its terms and conditions and/or separately agreed customer contract.
Who is responsible for monitoring or “policing” “SOLAS VGM”?
Government agencies/authorities, like the Coast Guard in the United States, and The Maritime & Coastguard in the U.K. are responsible for ensuring that shippers comply with the requirements.
What is Blockchain and does it affect the privacy of my VGM information?
Blockchain is a continuously growing list of time-stamped records that are stored and structured into records or ‘blocks’. We designed the VGM blockchain solution to strictly fulfill all industry requirements of confidentiality, data privacy, and regulations regarding personally identifiable information adding to blockchain’s natural features of immutability and traceability. Hence, the privacy of your VGM information is guaranteed at all times.
Which additional details are mandatory for shipping out of Italian ports?
For shipments from Italian ports, the shipper must provide additional contact information by filling in the "Phone" and "E-mail" fields in our portal. If Method 1 (Weighing) is additionally selected, the sender must enter the ID of the scale used for weighing in the "Scale" field.