Industry Coalition Offers Clarity on New Container Weighing Regulations

The regulation requires packed shipping containers to have a verified gross mass before being loaded on a ship for export

Dec. 10, 2015—The World Shipping Council (WSC), the TT Club, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) and the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) jointly released a new frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to address issues arising from the new container weighing regulations due to take effect globally on July 1, 2016. The amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention require packed shipping containers to have a verified gross mass (VGM) before they can be loaded on a ship for export.

The amendments were adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to enhance maritime safety, and reduce the dangers to containerships, their crews and all those involved in container transport throughout the supply chain. The FAQs were developed by the industry coalition in response to numerous questions from shippers, carriers, forwarders and terminal operators about the steps they must take to ensure successful implementation of the new regulations.

This initial FAQ document seeks to clarify how the SOLAS container weight verification requirements will function in various situations. It identifies commercial and operational arrangements that will have to be addressed, and it flags issues that must be dealt with by national governments. The FAQs are based on actual questions from affected stakeholders and they will be expanded as new issues emerge. Stakeholders are invited to approach any of the collaborating organizations with additional questions that may come up. Contact details of subject matter experts from each of the organizations can be found at the end of the FAQ document.

Container safety is a shared responsibility, and all parties have an interest in improving the safety of ships, the safety of cargo, and the reduction of risks to the lives of ships’ crews and others throughout the containerized supply chain.