Key Topic – Container Weight Verification Rules (SOLAS)
Effective July 1, 2016, exporters face a new requirement to provide ocean carriers with a verified gross mass (VGM), which is essentially the combined weight of the shipping container and all the cargo it contains. This is commonly referred to as the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) rule. It has become a major concern for exporters because they feel they are being held responsible for providing an accurate weight measurement for a container they do not own.
Recently the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced a three-month period in which port control authorities should exercise flexibility in enforcing the SOLAS rule. The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) also recently announced that it supports the use of existing, on-terminal scales to obtain the VGM of containers. This has eased exporters’ compliance concerns to some degree, but USMEF continues to monitor this issue carefully.
The three-month “grace period” referred to above expired on Oct. 1, so stricter enforcement of the SOLAS rule is now anticipated. To date, however, USMEF has not heard from members encountering any difficulties.