New SOLAS container requirements taking effect July 1st, 2016


What is SOLAS– IMO’s- International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires that every containers Gross Mass is verified(with a signature) prior to stowage aboard the ship/vessel.

Who is Responsible– The shipper is responsible for the Verification of the Gross Mass of a container. They are also responsible for ensuring that the Verified Gross Mass is communicated in the shipping documents sufficiently in advance so it can be used in the ship’s stowage plan.

Why SOLAS– To ensure the safety of the ship, the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore, the safety of cargo and overall safety at sea.

When– The new regulation is effective on July, 1 2016.

Where– There are 171 International Maritime Organization (IMO) member countries and 3 associate members.

How– There are 2 methods by which the shipper may obtain the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of a container:

Method 1: Upon the conclusion of packing & sealing the container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged for a 3rd party to weigh the packed container.

Method 2: The shipper/3rd party may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container and add the tare weight of the container.

International Maritime Organization link:


  • Select the best weighing method (1 or 2) to determine VGM (verified gross mass-which is the gross weight) for your business.
  • Method 1- Shipper or a 3rd party may weigh the container after it is packed and sealed using certified equipment.
  • Method 2- Weigh all packages and cargo items to include pallets, dunnage, securing material to be packed in the container plus the tare weight =VGM.

Cargo weight + Container Tare Weight = VGM

Collecting Tare Weight:

1) Check the weight marked on the container/door.

2) Contact Container Carriers Customer Service to verify container tare weight.

3) Check Carrier Websites.

Once the above is determined, forward verified data with shipping documentation to carrier for
submission at the terminal. Some terminals may not permit entry of the unit without a declared
VGM(whether arriving by road or rail), some port terminals will offer weighing services for a fee.
Amounts will be dependent on the port/terminal. VGM cut off times will vary by port, terminal.

We are working collectively with the various Ports, Truckers & Steamship lines for best practices.
We are pending further direction from the International Maritime Organization(IMO) regarding
acceptable documentation etc. Such matters have not been decided or settled at this time. Should you
have any inquiries please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned to the Thunderbolt Global website for more information about industry changes.

(View and download our PDF for full report)