SOLAS Weight Certification Requirements

As we reported earlier this year, the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirements go into effect on July 1, 2016. At that time, the shipper listed on the carrier’s master bill of lading will be required to provide the vessel operator with a certified gross weight sufficiently in advance of vessel loading so it can be used in the preparation of the ship’s stowage plan. This means that NVOCCs will be responsible for providing that certified weight to the carriers when they are the shipper on the master bill of lading.  Each of the 170 countries that are signatories to SOLAS will be tasked with ensuring the gross mass of containers is verified, without which the boxes can legally not be loaded on board a ship.

In order to provide some additional guidance on this issue, the World Shipping Council – acting in conjunction with several other international organizations – has just issued a document entitled Verified Gross Mass Industry FAQs. This document,  raises and then answers some of the questions that you may have had.

The FAQs discusses the following issues, such as:

  • The FAQs make it clear that the shipper is to use a scale calibrated in accordance with state regulations. If that is done correctly, the shipper need not be concerned that the actual weight at some point may vary, as they can safely assume that the certified weight provided to the carrier will fall within whatever government enforcement tolerances may be in effect.
  •  The FAQs reiterate that all shipments must be the result of reliable, certified weights, and there is to be no estimating.
  • In determining the tare weight of the container, shippers can and should rely on the weight printed on the container and not be concerned about the condition or age of the box.
  • An NVOCC can properly rely on the certified weight provided by the underlying customer, although it would be then be necessary to add its own signature to that certification since the NVOCC is the shipper on the Master Bill of Lading.

The full document can be reviewed here . If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 973-779-5900