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Overweight Surcharge for containers more than 20 tons from Asia-Europe – CMA CGM

CMA CGM, the world’s 3rd largest container shipping line by TEU and Vessel capacity has announced the implementation of Overweight Surcharge (OWS) on its Asia to North Europe trade effective September 15th, 2022 (loading date) until further notice..

This applies to all 20′ dry van containers loaded from North East Asia, South East Asia, China, Hong Kong & Macau SAR to North Europe, Scandinavia, Poland & Baltic..

The announced OWS is $150 per 20′ dry with container gross weight equal to or over 20 tons..

If I read and interpret the wording “container gross weight” correctly, it would mean that any container with a gross weight of 20 tons INCLUDING container tare weight would be subject to this Overweight Surcharge..

If we take an average 20′ container tare weight of 2.230 tons, customers can then only pack 17.770 tons in a 20′ container without incurring OWS..

As per Eurostat, manufactured goods dominate imports into Europe from ASEAN countries and China, and between 2011 and 2021 its share increased from 77% to 86% due to the increasing share of machinery and vehicles, and of other manufactured goods..

Manufactured goods and machinery are generally heavy goods and this means that majority of the 86% of cargoes will incur OWS adding to the cost of goods for customers..

This overweight, however, should NOT be confused with when a container is actually overweight by way of packing.. 

So when is a container considered Overweight..??

Every container should have a valid safety approval plate called CSC (Container Safety Convention) plate in order for it to be used in international trade.. This is in accordance with the provisions of the International Convention on Safe Containers of 1972..

The role of this CSC plate is to confirm that the container has been inspected and found to be in a condition suitable for transportation on board the ship.. This plate has all the details of the Owners, Technical Data, and ACEP information..

There are also other plates/certifications that may be required for the containers to be used in international trade like the Customs Plate and Timber treatment (for the floorboard) certification.. These days, such certifications are included in the CSC Plate and this is called a Combined Data Plate as shown in the below example..

CSC Plate over weight container surcharge - shipping and freight resourceImage :

Using the above plate as an example, a container that has been loaded more than the allowed weight – in this case, 32,500 kgs including the tare weight of the container, will be considered as OVERWEIGHT..

It is therefore imperative that the packing warehouse/depot check this CSC plate upon the arrival of the container and ensure that they do not exceed the Maximum Gross Weight mentioned on the plate..

Most container shipping lines have containers that have different weight capacities because not all cargoes are heavy.. Therefore if the shipper is aware that his cargo is going to be heavy – say Minerals, Steel Coils or such similar types, they can always request the shipping line to release such “heavy tested” or “high payload” containers for packing such cargoes..

The shipping lines will charge container misdeclaration penalties for containers that are wilfully overloaded as weight misdeclarations have caused several incidents of loss to ships and containers..

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Is it still cheaper to use 20′ container and accept OWS in addition to ocean freight or shipper will change their empty requirements now to 40′ GP or HC?

    • Good question Edward.. It really depends on the trade.. In some areas, carriers may have excess 40’s than 20’s and in some of those areas, they could use equipment substitution giving clients 40’s for the same or lower rates than 20’s but with all the local charges of a 40′.. This could work out cheaper for some shippers.. But remember 40’s cannot replace 20’s in certain heavy cargo shipments, so shippers might end up having to pay the OWS..

    • Hi Julius, VGM is for EVERY CONTAINER to measure and identify the weight of the container.. This surcharge is an addition to the freight charges for 20′ dry containers which are heavier than 20 tons.. So yes it is different..

  2. hi Hariesh,

    thanks for this message. as always, your messages are interesting/practical/informative.
    personally, I think this is an outright abuse, sinc emost 20′ containers have CSC plates indicating 24 tons or more as payload! I think, this measure is especially aimed towards low volume (spot market) shippers, who don’t really know the technical characteristics of the containers.
    from a Shippers’ point of view, as well as an ecological point of view, the payload of all containers should be increased in the future, in order to take more cargo/container and this way reduce the number of containers handled. this is technically perfectly possible (eg 40′ collapsable flats available of 50 tons payload!).
    i believe, this is a way of making easy money.

    • Hi Sven, thanks for your comments.. Increasing payload is not going to assist in reducing the number of containers.. A 40′ is designed more for volume capacity and a 20′ is designed for weight and a 40′ GP cannot be a substitute for a 20′ GP for heavy cargo as a 40′ has a less payload capacity..


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