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Container weight requirement from July 1st 2016

Container weight requirement from July 1st 2016

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), part of the United Nations, is changing the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)-convention for loading containers onto cargo vessels. Effective from July 1st, the weight requirement will demand the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of containers to be reported.

The SOLAS-convention is changed for purposes of improving safety at sea. Loading containers on board safely requires a precise and verified weight. This will help to prevent containers from falling overboard.

Guidelines to determine the VGM

Anyone who utilizes containers for sea freight, is obliged to specify the weight on the B/L. Determining the weight can be done in two ways:

  1. Weighing the full container, using certified and calibrated weighing equipment.
  2. Weighing all parts separately. The tare weight of the container which can be found on the door, is added to the cargo and all packaging materials.

Containers might be inspected before they are loaded onto a vessel. When the reported weight is found to differ too much from the actual weight, consequences might be inflicted. The container might be rejected. This can also happen when there is no reported verified weight. As a result, the shipment will be delayed. In addition, costs for container storage and unused space on board might be charged. In the end, the shipper will always be responsible for the declared weight.


Still a lot of questions about import

The container weight requirement will be legally effective from July 1st and will apply to all import shipments. The exact guidelines are not clear yet. It is possible that they will differ, depending on the country, shipping company or even port. At the moment, your supplier or producer knows best about the local regulations. They can easily contact the involved authorities and gather the necessary information to help you out.


Guidelines for export

As from July 1st, every container departing the Rotterdam port needs to be accompanied by a verified weight. This needs to be declared, at the latest on the day of departure.

Considering the verified weight, a distinction is made between a FCL and LCL-container:

  • For FCL, the tare weight of the container needs to be declared, as well as the weight of the cargo.
  • For LCL, only the weight of the own cargo has to be verified.


A margin on the actual weight is allowed:

  • A deviation of 5% is accepted for all containers weighing over 10 tons.
  • For containers weighing less than 10 tons, a difference of no more than 500 kilos is allowed.



It goes without saying that we will keep you updated on possible modifications or any news about the container weight requirement.


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