New IMO Rules On Verified Gross Container Weights

Important News For Exporters

New IMO Rules On Verified Gross Container Weights

Before 2014

SOLAS convention only required that prior to loading a shipper must:

  • Provide ship’s master or representative with the gross mass of the container.
  • Ensure the actual gross mass is in accordance with the declared gross mass.
  • No effective enforcement in most jurisdictions.
  • No IMO requirement to verify actual weights.

Key points

  • Despite industry efforts to reduce incidences of shippers providing incorrect container weights, the problem continues.
  • The problem is significant and arises in almost every trade and in some trades, it is rampant.
  • An investigation of an ocean carrier’s structural failure incident in 2007 found that 20 percent of the containers on deck had actual weights that differed more than three tons from their declared weights and that the largest difference was 20 tons. It was also found that the total weight of the 20 percent misdeclared containers was 312 tons heavier than indicated on the cargo manifest (gross mass declared by shippers) in shipping instructions provided to the ocean carrier.
  • In October 2012, over a two-week period, Ukraine Customs weighed all containers discharged in Ukrainian ports. It was found that 56 percent of the containers had an actual weight greater than the weight stated in the carrier’s cargo manifest. Similar findings have been reported by other customs agencies. Source: World Shipping Council – SOLAS Weight Requirements
  • Consequences of misdeclared weights lead to: Risk of personal injury or death to crew and shore side workers, ship instability, incorrect vessel stowage, collapsed container stacks , re-handling and re-stowing, higher operating costs, chassis and ship damage, supply chain delay, shut-out of accurately declared cargoes, road safety problems, etc…

New SOLAS amendments basic principles

1. Before a packed container can be loaded onto a ship, its weight must be determined through weighing – A verified weight is a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship. No Verified Weight means No Load.

2. Estimating weight is not permitted. Shippers must weigh or arrange for weighing of packed container or its contents.

3. Two permissible methods for weighing: Method 1: Weigh the packed container. Method 2: Weigh the cargo and other contents and add tare mass of the container. (Packages that have the accurate mass clearly and permanently marked on their surfaces do not need to be weighed again when they are packed into the container.)

4. Shipper may rely on beneficial cargo owners (BCO’s) or other forwarders’ properly derived weights, using Method 1 or 2. But -- shippers remain responsible for verified weight. “Shipper” means the party identified on the maritime carrier’s Bill of Lading.

5. Governments may apply enforcement tolerance limits. Does not relieve the shipper from obligation to provide verified weight obtained from weighing.

6. Lack of signed shipper weight verification can be remedied by weighing the packed container at port or elsewhere. Subject to the Carriers and port terminals to agree on how such situations will be handled.

7. Government implementation - Commercial parties need to understand and arrange for compliance with national/local requirements (e.g., certification and documentation.)

SOLAS convention is applicable global law. The SOLAS amendments become effective on July 1, 2016 for packed containers received for transportation (gate-in or off-rail).