Print PDF

Coast Guard Won’t Delay Container Weight Rule but Won’t Penalize Shippers

Monday, February 22, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. Coast Guard will not delay U.S. implementation of a container weight verification rule slated to take effect worldwide July 1 but it also will not penalize shippers for not complying, press sources cited Rear Adm. Paul Thomas as saying at a Feb. 18 meeting hosted by the Federal Maritime Commission. Under the rule adopted by the International Maritime Organization, shippers of packed cargo containers will have to certify and submit the verified gross mass (the combined weight of the cargo and container) to the carrier and port terminal operator sufficiently in advance of vessel loading to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan. Business groups are concerned that this requirement could lead to higher costs, further port congestion and slower delivery times.

Delay of the IMO rule “is not an option,” Thomas asserted. “Even if the U.S. were to delay implementation,” a Journal of Commerce article noted, “other [countries] would still be enforcing the mandate on U.S. goods.” Thomas said a U.S. delay would thus have little effect except “sending a message around the world that U.S. cargo can’t be loaded safely.”

According to press sources, Thomas said it will be up to the carriers to ensure that VGMs are accurate and impose any necessary enforcement measures for noncompliance. The Coast Guard can “block or remove containers from ships if they aren’t certified,” a Wall Street Journal article cited Thomas as saying, but will not impose any fines or fees on shippers itself because it has no authority over them. Thomas added that the Coast Guard does not plan to issue guidelines or clarifications as requested by the exporting community.

To get news like this in your inbox daily, subscribe to the Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report.

Customs & International Headlines