VGM

Q&A: SOLAS VGM Equivalency

Q: What is the reason for the VGM amendments to SOLAS regulation VI/2?

A: There are concerns around improperly declaring the gross mass of a packed container. Safety risks emerge if discrepancies between gross mass and actual gross mass go unnoticed. According to the International Maritime Organization: discrepancies “could have an adverse impact on the safety of the ship, seafarers and shore-side workers, by leading to incorrect vessel stowage decisions and potentially collapsed container stacks or loss of containers overboard.” The goal of the regulation is to provide increased accuracy and accountability regarding the gross mass of a packed container.

Q: What is the reason for the equivalency update from the Coast Guard?

A: The United States Coast Guard states in an April 28, 2016 Marine Safety Information Bulletin that it “has determined that existing U.S. laws and regulations for providing verified container weights are equivalent to the requirements in SOLAS Regulation VI/2.”

Q: What are the most important takeaways from this update?

A: There are two key takeaways:
• First: Domestic – US to Guam and From Guam to US ports do not require VGM certification
• Second: Effective 1 July 2016, international regulations will require shippers to declare a VGM for every container originating from a foreign port destined for the US or vice versa. Ocean carriers will not be able to load any container without a declared VGM

Q: Are there any resources that readers can or should visit for more information?

A: Yes. The Marine Safety Information Bulletin regarding the Coast Guard update is in a convenient PDF format on the Coast Guard Website. The verification of the gross mass of a packed container page on the International Maritime Organization site provides details on the amendment to the VGM regulation.

Note: This information is intended as a reference and may not be used as a substitute for the information provided by the International Maritime Organization and The United States Coast Guard.