SOLAS VGM - China Implementation Guidelines

Ministry of Transport Announcement – Implementation of the amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (Chapter VI, Regulation 2)

To all maritime agencies:

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee has adopted the changes to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (hereinafter referred to as SOLAS) 1974 Chapter VI Regulation 2 in the 94th meeting in 2015 (Resolution MSC. 380 (94)). The SOLAS amendment requires all packed containers to verify the gross mass before loading onto vessels with effect from 1 July 2016. China is one of the SOLAS signatories, so this document outlines the China guidelines for the implementation of the mandatory amendment. To comply with the amendment, please be informed of the following requirements:

1. Key content of the amendment

(1) Container weight verification requirements

The SOLAS amendments require shippers to verify the gross mass of the packed containers before loading onto vessels. Shippers should submit the verified gross mass to the ship’s master or his representative and to the terminal operator through transportation documents sufficiently in advance of loading to be used in the preparation and implementation of the ship stowage plan. If shippers cannot provide the verified gross mass information of the packed containers, the ship’s master has the right to refuse to allow the containers to load onto the ship, unless the ship’s master and terminal have already received the verified gross mass information via other channels.

(2) Methods for obtaining the verified gross mass of a packed container

The SOLAS amendment details two methods by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container:

  1. Method 1: The shipper may use certified weighing instruments to weigh the entire packed container;
  2. Method 2: The shipper may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single mass using a certified method recognized by the loading country’s enforcement agency.

(3) Scope of applicability

The SOLAS requirements to verify the gross mass of a packed container apply to all containers to which the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) 1972 applies, and which are to be stowed onto a ship determined by the Administration to be subject to SOLAS chapter VI.

 

2. Requirements to packed container shippers

(1) Shippers, who plan to export packed containers from the ports in Mainland China after July 1, 2016, should verify the gross mass of the packed containers before loading onto vessels. Transshipment containers loaded at their port of origin outside China before July 1 are not subject to this requirement during transshipment at the ports in Mainland China after July 1.

(2) Shippers mentioned above can choose either Method 1 or Method 2 to verify the gross mass of the packed containers. If using Method 1, upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh the packed container or arrange for a third party using weighing instruments that are certified by metrological supervision organizations. If using Method 2, the shipper should follow the procedures in the “Guidelines of Method 2 for Obtaining the Verified Gross Mass of a Packed Container” (attached) to calculate the overall gross mass of the packed container.

(3) Shippers mentioned above should submit the verified gross mass information to the ship’s master or his representative sufficiently in advance using the transportation document. This document can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication and must at least include the following information:

  1. Method that the shipper uses to verify the gross mass of the packed container
  2. Declaration of the shipper who verifies the packed container:
    If using Method 1, the declaration should state: “I, the shipper, declare that the verified gross mass information of the packed container in this document is obtained based on the stated method in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 Chapter VI Regulation 2.4.1. The weighing instrument in the weighing station has received the certificate from a metrological supervision organization and the date receiving the verified weight is within the validity period of the certificate.”
    If using Method 2, the declaration should state: “I, the shipper, declare that the verified gross mass information of the packed container in this document is obtained based on the stated method in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 Chapter VI Regulation 2.4.2. This method follows the requirements in the ‘Guidelines of Method 2 for Obtaining the Verified Gross Mass of a Packed Container’ published by the enforcement agency.”
  3. The signature of the official authorized person of the shipper. The signature can be in electronic format.

 

3. Requirements to vessels, carriers and terminal operators

(1) Vessels loaded with packed containers, carriers and its agencies, and terminal operators should receive the verified gross mass of the packed container from shippers. For containers without the verified gross mass, vessels and carriers and its agencies should not accept the containers onto the vessel. Terminal operators also cannot arrange for the containers to load onto the vessel.

(2) Before the packed container is loaded onto the vessel, terminal operators should be informed by the vessel, carriers and its agencies mentioned above if the shipper has provided the verified gross mass of the packed container and what that gross mass is.

(3) Vessel, carriers and its agencies and the terminal operators mentioned above should establish an effective information communication channel to ensure the verified container gross mass information to be communicated follows the process from shippers to carriers to terminals.

 

4. Additional Information

(1) The shipper is responsible for verifying the actual weight of the packed container before delivering it to the vessel for transport.

(2) All marine management agencies should perform random checks on the verified gross mass of packed containers loaded onto vessels. For packed containers with verified gross mass, marine management agencies should request the carrying vessel to correct the weight information and start sailing after the rectification has been verified. When marine management agencies receive a report or are in doubt about the accuracy of the verified container gross mass information, the agency can request the shipper to verify the container gross mass again. The shipper, carrier and its agencies, vessel, and terminal operator are required to cooperate.

(3) All port administrative departments should urge port operators to follow the required responsibilities in this announcement to establish a comprehensive, effective information communication channel with vessels, carriers and its agencies.

(4) The equipment for weighing the packed containers using Method 1 should fulfill the accuracy standards and requirements of China’s related regulation of metrology techniques. The operating unit of the weighing equipment should publish such information in the proper way so that all parties can use it.

(5) The discrepancies between the verified container gross mass declared by the shipper and the verified gross mass obtained by marine management agencies, vessels, carriers or terminal operators must be within +/-5% or 1 ton (the smaller value applies) and does not exceed the maximum payload of the container. If it exceeds, the shipper should verify the gross mass of the packed container again and meet the requirements before it can be delivered to the vessel for transport.

Attachment: Guidelines of Method 2 for Obtaining the Verified Gross Mass of a Packed Container

Ministry of Transport
6 June 2016

 

Guidelines of Method 2 for Obtaining the Verified Gross Mass of a Packed Container

1. Main Principles

1.1 Objectives

These Guidelines are intended to establish a common approach for the enforcement of the amended ‘International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in 1974’ (hereinafter referred to as “SOLAS”) on Chapter VI, Regulation 2, which provide recommendations for shippers to use Method 2 to obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container.

1.2 Accordance

These Guidelines are prepared in accordance with the amended SOLAS Chapter VI, Regulation 2

1.3 Scope of applicability

These Guidelines apply to shippers using Method 2 to weigh container carrying cargo, under the requirements of the amended SOLAS.

1.4 Terms and definitions

1.4.1 ‘Shipper’ refers to a legal entity or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document (e.g. “through” bill of lading) as shipper and/or who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company.

1.4.2 ‘Calibrated and certified weighing instrument’ means a platform scale, automobile scale, lifting equipment or any other device, capable of determining the actual gross mass of a packed container or of packages and cargo items, pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material, that fulfills the accuracy standards and requirements of China’s related regulation of metrology techniques.

1.4.3 ‘Ship’ refers to any vessel to which SOLAS chapter VI applies.

1.4.4 ‘Gross mass’ means the combined mass of a container’s tare mass and the masses of all packages and cargo items, (including pallets, dunnage and other packing material and securing materials packed into the container).

1.4.5 ‘Cargo items’ has the same general meaning as the term “cargo” in the International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972, as amended (hereinafter referred to as “the CSC”), and refers to any goods, wares, merchandise, liquids, gases, solids and articles of every kind whatsoever carried in containers pursuant to a contract of carriage. However, the ship’s equipment and its supplies, including the ship’s spare parts and stores, carried in containers are not regarded as cargo.

1.4.6 ‘Contract of carriage’ means a contract in which a shipping company, against the payment of freight, undertakes to carry goods from one place to another.

1.4.7 ‘Container’ has the same meaning as the term ‘container’ in the CSC and means an article of transport equipment designed to be secured and/or readily handled, having corner fittings for these purposes, and excludes vehicles and offshore containers as stated in MSC/Circ. 860 published by International Maritime Organization (IMO).

1.4.8 ‘Shipping document’ means a document used by the shipper to communicate the verified gross mass of the packed container. This document can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication (e.g. a declaration including a weight certificate produced by a weigh station).

1.4.9 ‘Tare mass’ means the mass of an empty container that does not contain any packages, cargo items, pallets, dunnage, or any other packing material or securing material.

 

2. Method 2 for obtaining the verified gross mass of a packed container

2.1 The responsibility for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of a packed container lies with the shipper.

2.1.1 The shipper is responsible for the verification of the gross mass of a container carrying cargo

2.1.2 If a container is packed by multiple parties or contains cargo from multiple parties, the shipper is responsible for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of the packed container, including the mass of the cargo items and packing and securing material that the parties have packed into the container.

2.2 Internal control policy of the Shipper

The Shipper should establish a proper internal control and management system to verify the gross mass of a packed container, in order to meet the accuracy standards and to ensure the weighing staff are equipped with training and knowledge to perform the weighing services. The Shipper must also ensure the packed container does not exceed the maximum payload as required by the CSC.

2.3 Weighing process for Method 2

2.3.1 Step 1: Acquiring the masses of cargo items

Add up the total weight of all individual cargo items to be packed into a container. For LCL shipments, the cargo weight can be obtained from the measurement and weighing process in the production.

2.3.2 Step 2: Acquiring the masses of packaging

All the masses of packaging can be obtained from the manufacturer

2.3.3 Step 3: Acquiring the masses of packing and securing materials

All the masses of the securing materials such as pallets and dunnage, etc can be obtained from the manufacturer

2.3.4 Step 4: Acquiring the tare container mass

Shipper should obtain the tare mass of each container being marked on the exterior of every container at the time of manufacture.

2.3.5 Step 5: Adding up all the masses

The masses obtained in 2.3.1 to 2.3.5 should be added to work out the gross mass of the packed container

2.4 Calculation accuracy of packed container’s verified gross mass

2.4.1 Possible discrepancies

2.4.1.1 Using this method, the total weight by adding up the gross weight of different items may change. For example, the weight of wood pallets, dunnage, and plank may change due to the humidity of the air.

2.4.1.2 The equipment for weighing each individual items and the small difference of the tare weight of the container and the cargo items may affect the total weight.

2.4.2 How to handle the discrepancies

2.4.2.1 The discrepancies between the verified container gross mass declared by the shipper and the verified gross mass obtained by marine management agencies, vessels, carriers or terminal operators must be within +/-5% or 1 ton (the smaller value applies).

2.4.2.2 Shippers should confirm the potential discrepancies in the weighing method for the packed containers and should record the discrepancies in internal control procedures.

2.4.2.3 Despite the potential discrepancies in the verified container gross mass, shippers should not violate the responsibilities and requirements of obtaining the accurate verified gross mass stated in the SOLAS amendments.

 

This is a translated version based on the guidelines published by Ministry of Transport of China. In case of discrepancies, please refer to the original Chinese version.