Verified Gross Mass
The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the measurement of a shipping container’s total weight including contents.
On 1st July 2016, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amended the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention to improve safety, help save lives and prevent injury. The amendment mandates the declaration of the VGM of packed shipping containers.
What this translates to is a new regulation on how shipping container weight details are measured. Currently, there are two approved methods of measuring a container’s VGM:
The container is weighed after it has been fully packed either by the shipper themselves or by a third party.
The container and all contents are weighed separately before the container is packed by either the shipper themselves or by a third party. The resulting weights are then added together to form the VGM.
In both methods, all weighing equipment used must comply with accuracy standards as per the relevant Country/State’s regulations.
Once the shipper has the VGM for the container(s), this information is to be provided to the relevant authority and to the terminal representative early enough so that they can factor it in to their ship stowage plan.
Why it is important
In the past, many accidents have been caused by a misdeclaration of container weight. Containers with misdeclared weights can cause issues with transportation, including overturning vehicles; container stacks collapsing; and affecting the vessel’s stability which, in the worst case scenario, can lead to potential capsizing.
The new SOLAS VGM regulation, properly adhered to, will improve safety throughout the supply chain.
In December 2015, the World Shipping Council, Regional Implementation Information, Global Shippers Forum, ICHCA and the TT Club released a PDF document detailing an overview of the SOLAS VGM regulation, answering many questions. This is one of the best sources of information currently available on this regulation:
This page is a part of our container information series. For more details and links to other pages, please see the container information page.View PDF
The IMO have also written a comprehensive Q&A on SOLAS VGM and its implications:IMO Article