Verified Gross Mass of loaded shipping containers – A broker’s guide

From 1 July 2016, SOLAS Chapter VI / Regulation 2 has been amended to place new obligations on the shipper of cargo and others in the supply chain.

The new obligations are, in effect, that the shipper must:

  • Obtain and document the verified gross mass (VGM) of a packed container.
  • Communicate the VGM to the carrier in a shipping document or other approved notice or by electronic data interchange (EDI)
  • Ensure that the document or transmission declaring the VGM is signed (whether analog or digitally) by a named individual, duly authorised by the shipper.
  • Ensure that the VGM is communicated to the master of the vessel and the loading terminal sufficiently in advance of loading to the vessel, so that the VGM is used for proper load-planning.


From 1 July 2016, no vessel may load a container that does not have a VGM declaration signed by the shipper and calculated by one of the two approved methods. The vessel and (by implication) the loading terminal will be obliged to reject the container.

Rejection of containers will result in additional costs - haulage, storage, demurrage, repacking and weighing being the most obvious. Rejection or delay of perishable or other time-critical cargo might lead to more serious consequences.

There are also criminal penalties for misdeclaring the VGM - a statutory fine, two years imprisonment or both. Parties liable to prosecution will include the named signatory on the declaration and any combination of the officers of the shipper, forwarder, terminal or shipping line.

Read the guide by RSA Marine Risk Management here or by clicking on the document image below.