SOLAS – Container Weight Verification

by Catherine J. Petersen           1/12/2016

SOLAS – Container Weight Verification

There have been several articles during the past 12 months about the Safety of Life at Sea or SOLAS rules that will be effective July 1, 2016. The question has been asked, but not answered: how will the rules be implemented?


Let's start with the rules; the World Shipping Council (WSC) approved changes to the SOLAS convention regarding a mandatory container weight verification requirement on shippers. The WSC Implementing Guidelines are posted at

Method No.1: Upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party weighs, the packed container.

Method No.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 masses using a certified method. Any third party that has performed some or all of the packing of the container should inform the shipper of the mass of the cargo items and packing and securing material that the party has packed into the container in order to facilitate the shipper's verification of the gross mass of the packed container under Method No.2. As required by SOLAS VI/2 and paragraph 5, the shipper should ensure that the verified gross mass of the container is provided sufficiently in advance of vessel loading.

Within the WSC guidelines go on to advise that the verified gross mass (VGM) "is to be communicated between the shipper and any third party should be agreed between the commercial parties involved." However, the document certifying the VGM can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication (e.g. a declaration including a weight certificate produced by a weigh station utilizing calibrated and certified equipment on the route between the shipper's origin and the port terminal).

More Information:

What’s an exporter or importer to do?

$1.    Stay informed.

$2.    Work closely with your freight forwarder who will be booking the cargo with the carrier to develop a proactive response.

$3.    Utilize your internal systems to develop a certified packing list compliant with the SOLAS requirements.