From 1st July 2016, it will be mandatory for shippers to declare a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for all export containers. This is an international requirement under amendments to the IMO Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, which will be enforced in Australia by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) through amendments to Marine Orders Part 42 (MO42) under the Navigation Act 2012.
From 1st July 2016, no packed container will be loaded onto a ship unless the ship’s master, or his representative and terminal representative have obtained, in advance of the ship’s loading, the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the container.
The “shipper” means the legal entity or person named on the Ocean Bill of Lading or House Bill of Lading.
The law allows for the VGM to be obtained by one of two methods:
Method 1: Weighing the packed container; or
Method 2: Weighing all the packages and cargo items, including pallets, dunnage or other packing materials, and then adding the tare mass of the container.
Through MO42, AMSA will prescribe the measurement accuracy standards of the weighing equipment that will be acceptable and recognised for obtaining the verified weight of the container.
MO42 will approve the use of measurements obtained in accordance with national legislation for trade measurement, and other standards of accuracy for static (pallet weighers and other static weigh-catcher devices) and non-static weighing devices, including devices mounted on vehicles such as heavy forklifts, reach-stackers and road transport trailing equipment.
Once the VGM of the container has been obtained, the weight must be declared on the shipping documents by the shipper, or the authorised representative of the shipper. The declaration can be provided electronically.
In summary, it is no longer acceptable to estimate weights of cargo to be exported from Australia. The goods need to be physically weighed by a prescribed manner that meets legislation of MO42 and records need to be kept and produced if requested by the AMSA.
If an exporter does not have the equipment or time to weigh individual products then IFC suggests using method 1 – whereby the container, once packed, is taken via a weighbridge or the transport company yard for weighing by the reach stacker. In this method a record will be kept and IFC will keep on file.
IFC will be offering two services to comply with the prescribed standards for FCL containers as below, we anticipate weighbridge facilities will find it difficult to manage at least in the first few months.
- Certified Weighbridge service to comply with Method 1. Please note an official weight docket is given
- Container to be weighed with the use of our reach stacker in our transport company yard. Scales are calibrated to meet SOLAS requirements. Please note an official weight docket is NOT given, however weights are passed on to the exporter. This service may not be available in all states.
IFC will assume that the weight of any given LCL shipment, as submitted to us by you is true and accurate. This will need to be submitted no later than the advertised LCL Cutoff date. Given, again, that IFC is submitting the final container VGM, we are very much reliant on this precise information. We recommend that shippers conduct internal controls to establish that the known weight of their products is in fact accurate. It is important to remember and ensure that the weight includes all packing materials – including pallets, if applicable. The responsibility of providing an accurate and precise weight of the cargo falls on the shipper and such if you cannot be sure the accuracy of your declared weight we have the below alternative.
1.At the packing CFS we arrange for the cargo to be weighed in accordance with SOLAS requirements.
Key Points –
Estimated weights are no longer acceptable.
It is necessary to ensure that you understand that IFC are declaring verified weight under your authorisation but under the SOLAS regulations the shipper is ultimately responsible for the VGM declaration.
The start date is officially July 1, 2016 however a grace period of 3 months has been announced to allow Shippers to become familiar with the new legislation.
After the 3 month period the AMSA will enforce regulations and carry out audits so it’s important to keep a record of verified weights that meet the prescribed requirements.
If cargo weights are incorrectly declared then shipments may be delayed resulting in further costs that will be payable by the Shipper.
If there any questions or concerns please contact myself or our Export Manager – Mr Taylor Fei