Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) require the shipper of a packed container to provide, in a signed shipping document, the container’s verified gross mass (VGM).
These new regulations come into effect July 1, 2016 and have been designed to:
- improve container safety;
- enhance maritime safety; and
- reduce the dangers to container ships, their crews and all involved in moving containers through the supply chain.
The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and section 104.(1) of the Cargo, Fumigation and Tackle Regulations (CFTR) require every shipper of cargo to be loaded in Canadian waters, to comply with the relevant section: Chapter VI, regulation 2.
The shipper must determine VGM using one of two methods.
Method 1: When a container is packed and sealed, the shipper may weigh it, or arrange that a third party weigh it.
Method 2: The shipper or, a third party arranged by the shipper; may weigh:
- each item of cargo (including packaged, non-packaged, unitized cargoes);
- dunnage (loose material under and between items to prevent damage to cargo);
- any securing material that will be loaded into a container.
Then add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses of the container’s contents.
A packed container will not be loaded onto the ship until the master or his representative and terminal representative either receive the shipping document containing the verified gross mass of the container or have the verified gross mass of the container obtained by using either Method 1 or Method 2.
Transport Canada strongly suggests that shippers, carriers, forwarders and terminal operators need to plan how to apply these new SOLAS requirements in an efficient and effective manner. They all have a strong incentive to encourage compliance, to avoid disruptions in the supply chain.
The department encourages shippers to use trade approved weighing equipment to fulfill the SOLAS requirements. This will ensure they declare accurate container weights according to the well-established and understood regulatory regime for weights and measures.
To help shippers comply with these new requirements, Transport Canada, Marine Safety and Security (TCMSS), in consultation with Measurement Canada, various stakeholder’s groups and associations, has developed the publication “Canadian Procedure for Obtaining the Verified Gross Mass of Packed Containers as Required by SOLAS VI/2” TP 15330.
The Verification of Gross Mass is not required for packed containers carried on a chassis or a trailer, and driven on or off a roll on / roll off ship engaged on:
- an inland voyage,
- a sheltered waters voyage,
- a near coastal voyage, or
- Class 2 and near coastal voyage, Class 1.