FAQ: dbh answers your questions about Verified Gross Mass

Solas VGMSince 1 July 2016, the SOLAS VGM Directive has required worldwide reporting of the confirmed Gross container weight (Verified Gross Mass – VGM) to the shipowner. Shipowners are only allowed to load containers with a reported VGM onto seagoing vessels. This leads to some questions that we will be happy to answer.



Why the new solas VGM regulation?

Investigations have shown that incorrectly declared container weights accounted for not insignificant proportions of serious accidents or incidents. The regulation is therefore intended to avoid the loss or threat to life at sea, to reduce risks to the environment and to serious accidents and loss of cargo at sea.

Who has to report the VGM?

The “Shipper” as the person who concludes the contract of carriage with the shipowner must transmit the confirmed gross container weight to the shipowner. As a rule, this is the carrier or shipper. Messages from a designated representative are also accepted. However, the Shipper remains legally responsible for the notification. Here you will find a List of shipownersthat you can reach with the dbh solution to Solas VGM.

What needs to be reported?

The confirmed gross container weight (also gross mass or VGM) includes the total weight of a packed and sealed container, i.e. the unladen weight of the container plus all contained packages and cargo items, including pallets, storage material and other packaging and securing materials. In addition, the carrier, the shipper name, a person responsible for the notification, the container number and a booking or B/L number.

When do I need to report?

The directive speaks of ‘timely’. Accordingly, each shipowner defines its own VGM closing times, which are expected to be between 12 and 36 hours before the ship’s arrival (ETA). It can be assumed that the Shipper VGM closing times in Germany will be communicated by booking confirmation, analogous to document closing and loading times.

How is the VGM message done?

The confirmed gross mass must be documented by the Shipper in a transport document (as part of the shipping order or as a separate declaration). This may also be done electronically. For this purpose, the SMDG (User Group for Shipping Lines and Container Terminals) developed a standardized interface called “VERMAS” with which the VGM message can be sent to the shipowner via EDI. In any case, the notification must be signed by a person authorised by the Shipper. In the case of electronic delivery, the name written in capital letters shall be deemed to be the signature.

Does the VGM have to be shown in the IFTMIN = B/L in a “own” field?

yes. For the VGM and the other VGM-relevant data, the structures of IFTMIN are adjusted, since the previously reported total weight for a B/L and the verified gross container weight are independent values.

How do I report multiple containers to one carrier?

It is planned that a full VERMAS message with VGM information will be created for each container. Whether it is possible to summarize multiple messages to a file is carrier-individual.

What about the EDIFACT structures for Bremen and Hamburg?

The EDIFACT structures for Bremen and Hamburg will be coordinated as usual between dbh and DAKOSY. If the interfaces of Bremen/Bremerhaven/Wilhelmshaven (dbh) and Hamburg (DAKOSY) are operated, the structure of the interface is the same. This means that there is no need to send different file structures.

Can I correct my message?

yes. In the event of a check by the authorities, the last VGM notified to the shipowner shall be deemed to be binding.

How can the VGM be determined?

The confirmed gross mass can be determined in two ways. The respective regulations of the country in which the container is finally packed and weighed apply.

Method 1: Weighing

  • The fully packed and sealed container is weighed on a weighing station.
  • In Germany, at least scale class IV is required.
  • The container may also be weighed on a vehicle. However, the vehicle’s own weight and the amount of fuel in the tank must then be deducted from the overall weighing result.
  • German terminals do not plan their own scales.

Method 2: Calculation

  • Weight addition of container TARA + goods + cargo items including pallets, storage materials and other packaging and safety materials to be packed into the container.
  • The empty weight (TARA) of the container can be read from the container door or taken from a made-up list. This also applies if the VGM is specified for empty containers.
  • For the individual weighing, at least the scale class III is required. . Manufacturer/supplier information can be used as individual values. A check by your own weighing is recommended.
  • The calculation method requires certification. In Germany, the calculation path can be certified as part of an ongoing quality certification (e.g. ISO 9001, ISO 28001 or AEO). As an alternative, BG Verkehr plans to develop a procedure for gross mass determination, which is considered to be approved and certified within the meaning of the SOLAS Directive.
  • The person who determines the VGM for a container final does not have to be certified by every supplier of individual values. It is appropriate to make contractual arrangements for the dispute with regard to the obligation to transmit the weightcorrectly correctly.
How exactly does the VGM have to be determined - are there tolerances?

The weight must be determined as precisely as possible. In Germany, inspections take into account the inaccuracies (traffic error limits) of the scales used and special features such as snow on the container roof. In other countries, fixed tolerances have been defined, for example in Belgium 2%, in the Netherlands, Japan and England 5%. Inspections take into account the tolerances of the country in which the container is packed and sealed.

Is each container checked before loading?

No, that would bring port operations to a standstill. There will be random checks. If this is not the case, the authority shall bear the costs.

What are the consequences if the VGM is transmitted incorrectly or not at all?

The control of the directive is the task of the authorities (in Germany this is the ship safety department of the trade association Transport Industry = BG Transport). If massive deviations between transmitted VGM and actual weight are identified during the control weighing, the authorities shall prohibit loading until the correct confirmed gross mass is available. In addition, the shipper will be charged for weighing. If the weight is not specified, no congestion planning and no loading of the container is carried out. Consequences may include delayed delivery and additional costs such as repackaging costs, additional costs due to lying times as well as delayed or cancelled deliveries. If the container remains standing, a clarification of the consequences and costs directly between the shipowner and Shipper is required. The authorities do not provide for any intervention here.

What about Transshipment Containers?

There are no transitional arrangements. It is assumed that containers that were loaded before the cut-off date and then handled do not have to be weighed. In the case of transshipment containers loaded after 1 July 2016, the handling is expected to be prelocated.

What is the law?

Shipper packs and weighs the container in country A, puts it in country B on a ship The shipper in country A must work according to the local legislation, i.e. he must use weighing devices of the accuracy determinations of country A and, if method 2 is applied, be certified according to the rules of country A. Country B must take into account the arrangements adopted in country A in any checks.

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