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Three-Month Grace Period Urged for Container Weight Verification Requirement

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In a May 23 advisory circular to port state control authorities, companies, port terminals and others, the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee called for flexibility in implementing the verified gross mass requirement for loaded cargo containers that take effect July 1.

Regulation VI/2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea will require shippers of packed cargo containers to certify and submit the VGM (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. Some have interpreted this rule to mean that shippers are required to provide the weight of both the cargo and the container, which business groups have warned could lead to higher costs, further port congestion and slower delivery times.

According to a press release, the MSC agreed that while there should be no delay in the implementation of the SOLAS amendments, authorities should take a “practical and pragmatic approach” to enforcing them through Oct. 1. The press release states that this would help ensure that containers that are loaded before July 1 but transshipped on or after that date reach their final port of discharge without a VGM. It would also give stakeholders the flexibility to refine procedures for documenting, communicating and sharing electronic VGM data, if necessary, without causing delays to containers being loaded.

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