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HomeShipping and FreightWhat is SOLAS VGM - Verified Gross Mass..??

What is SOLAS VGM – Verified Gross Mass..??

There is a lot of noise in the recent past about SOLAS VGM and Verified Gross Mass.. What is it..??

Well, misdeclaration of container weights has been an issue that has been going on for a long time and has plagued many a shipping line and port..

As you may be aware, in November 2014 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amended SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea convention) Chapter VI Regulation 2 to tighten up the process of weighing containerised cargoes and declaring the correct weights after verification..

There has always been a requirement in SOLAS to declare the gross mass of cargo and containers, but the VGM rule adds an extra level requiring verification of the mass.. This is to ensure that the mass declared is a true reflection of the gross mass of the packed container, in order to avoid injury, cargo damage, loss of containers, and so on..

Since then there have been several documents and notices in circulation relating to the new container weight verification regulation which is expected to come into effect from July 2016..

But a lot of people don’t really understand how it will all work and what SOLAS VGM is and what this regulation means to the day to day shipping industry..

Hence I decided to do an infographic that gives a pictorial depiction of

  • What is SOLAS VGM (Verified Gross Mass) / Container Weight Verification..??
  • How this verification process is expected to work..??
  • Why is this so IMPORTANT..??
  • How it is about to affect day to day shipping but at the same time make shipping safer for everyone..??

This infographic speaks about verified gross mass, how it will work and the steps involved..

SOLAS VGM (Verified Gross Mass)


What do you think about this new regulation..?? Will it work as expected..?? Pls share your views..


  1. International Maritime Organisation
  2. Container weight misdeclaration archives from Shipping and Freight Resource
  3. Download FAQs and answers compiled by industry experts from WSC, the TT Club, ICHCA by clicking on the links

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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. Hi Hariesh,

    Have a few queries:
    1) For LCL shipments, will it be the freight forwarders / consolidators responsibility to provide VGM ?
    2) For shippers who cannot do the weighing for whatever reason, can their logistics service provider do the VGM on their behalf.

    • Its important that VGM is implemented at all stages in Cargo handling. As Freight forwarder we @valuehnadlers prefer to verify gross Mass of cargo before delivering to shipping line. All you need is deliver the cargo with document containing VGM column.

  2. One of the things i am having difficulty understanding is; if there are weight limits per size of the containers? For example between the few types of 20′-0″ containers, what are the weight limits one is allowed. if it is filled with some mineral or salt, the weight might be a lot more than if it is filled with, say blankets. I’d appreciate any help i can get on this matter.
    thank you

    • Hello Goshi, each container has a weight/volume capacity upto which it maybe loaded and this limit is displayed on the container and on its CSC Plate.. When you load a container over its capacity then it becomes overweight and that is the basis of this whole exercise.. Pls search for CSC plate on this blog for more articles..

  3. hi

    it will be complicated to implement and could disturb the gate in process, it port without enough equipment, also I m wondering how information will be sent to the shipping company before loading, keeping in mind that in most cases the shipping instruction are sent before container stuffing, and people with experience understand what I m speaking about.

  4. Hi Hariesh,

    My earlier comment didn’t go through.
    Just dropping a note to say that this is great and informative. Quite smart to include it in infographic form – especially as you’ve gone into depth to letting any person understand (those from a non-logistics background) the implications of customer weight verification when freight forwarding.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to more great articles such as this!



  5. Hi Hariesh,
    This was extremely informative. Thanks for taking the time to explain how important it is to ensure container weight verification when freight forwarding in the form of an infographic. It would make it is easier for a person who is not aware of the paericualrs to get a basic idea simply by reading your blog!

    Glad I stumbled onto your blog. I’ll be subscribing!



  6. Hi Hariesh!

    !. If the shipper submitting the VGM to the carrier (shipping line), then what is the medium of communication from carrier to port?
    2. If the shipper submitting the VGM to the port, then what is the medium of communication from port to carrier(shipping line)?

    • Hello Karthikeyan, in both scenario’s it would be a document confirming that the shipper has verified the weight of the container.. As yet there are no specific formats in circulation..

    • Hello Norman.. The bill of lading comes much later as most bills of lading are issued only after the container has been loaded and the ship has sailed.. Container weight verification must be done BEFORE the container is loaded on the ship.. But anyway in response to your question, there will be a difference in the weights because bill of lading weight does not include the weight of the container and only the cargo weight whereas the container weight verification will show the total weight including container weight..

  7. Dear Author, still regulation application in practice is still unclear, especially her in Baltics.
    Would you recommend some strong experts on container weight matters in Esters Europe who may disseminate some experience, parallel with the opportunity to promote their services, as we a host Technical seminar in Riga, March 17 and inviting speakers

  8. Very many thanks for sharing this excellent overview of what is required to be in full compliance. The date for full compliance is set as 1st July 2016, however beware that if you are shipping to Japan via a transhipment in Korea (for example), then it is effectively early May – not many shopping days left.

    In each jurisdiction, there is a local competent authority who will oversee this. For the UK, that is MCA (Maritime and Coast Guard Agency). The Shipper (as per the named shipper on the ocean BL) needs to be approved by MCA to use method 2. They will need to submit their application to MCA, and have their processes audited, within the next few months. Further, the forwarder or exporter will likewise need to be MCA approved before the shipper can accept their Customer’s VGM declaration. At some point in time, unless you have homogeneous cargo, every single component packing in the container will need to have its weigh verified by approved scales – and herein lies the complexity and pitfalls of method 2. Method 2 is also impossible for “bulk” cargoes, such as grain, scrap metal or waste paper.

    For method 1, things are somewhat easier. If you have a certified ticket from an authorised weighing station then as the shipper you should in theory be in compliance. However such facilities do not exist (in the UK) in abundance, and how far will a truck need to deviate to obtain such a ticket? What is the cost of that deviation?

    The VGM must be submitted before the ship planning processes commences, so that is usually roughly -24 hours before ship arrival. Late gates or JIT gates at terminals will no longer be possible. As the terminal needs the VGM also to determine yard location to land the export container. Then what happens if you packing station is next to a rail-head, and the container moves by rail to the port? The UK railheads do not have weigh-bridges, next stop is the terminal/port. A difficult one.

    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best is now” (Chinese proverb), so if you have not given this one too much thought as yet, then first thing tomorrow would be an excellent time to focus on it if you wish to have an uninterrupted supply chain in the second half of 2016.

    Write to me if you have further questions, I will get back to you as quickly as possible, but lead-times are based on volumes also so please be patient. Best Regards

    • Thank you for some useful pointers Andy.. 🙂 Surely there is going to be a lot of confusion in the early stages.. If what you say about Japan being the guinea pig for this test is true, then the rest of the world will know the results and see how it works..

  9. Hello Hariesh! Thanks for the article! It’s great to see all depicted properly. the only question I have is what will serve as a proof of veight verification commited by shipper?

    • Hello Vladimir.. As far as it has been discussed, there is no fixed document that will be accepted as proof of weight verification.. As advised by TT, a carrier may rely on a shipper’s signed weight verification to be accurate even if the carrier is not obliged to check the shipper’s verified gross mass.. However, the shipper’s verification must be “signed” to be compliant with the SOLAS requirement..

      This means a specific person representing the shipper will be named and identified as having verified the accuracy of the weight declaration on behalf of the shipper..

  10. this has been very insightful. much thanks… i normally deal with air shipments but just for curiosity sake, where will the weiging device be placed or located e.g at CFS’s ? or where??

    • Hello Najma that would depend on which method is used.. If it is Method 1, then the weighbridges are generally outside port area or en-route to the ports.. If it is Method 2, then that maybe done at the consolidators or customers packing warehouse..

  11. Thank vert much for you the info. I always export by sea. I’m on Africain Ivory Coast. This mesure will be applied reelly in Mars 2016 or It will depend on our authorities?

    • Hello Mamadou, as per the regulation it is mandatory for all ships loading containerised cargo.. Côte d’Ivoire is a signatory to the SOLAS convention so it would be applicable.. But let us wait and see how this progresses in July 2016 as implementation of this regulation is not going to be easy..


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