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What does Container VGM Mean in International Shipping

In recent years, accidents have occurred frequently due to inaccurate declaration of container VGM. Overloaded containers can easily cause the container body to deform and affect the service life of the container. During the loading operation, overturning, falling off, etc. can easily occur, damaging the container and loading equipment, and even causing personal injury, resulting in immeasurable losses. If overloaded containers are stowed on the deck, the stability of the ship will be reduced, which may increase the risk of the ship capsizing.

Sea freight from China

What does VGM mean?

Relevant requirements implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to increase maritime safety and reduce transportation risks caused by overweight containers. VGM is suitable for global maritime transport scope

VGM=Verified Gross Mass=Verified gross mass of the container

Industry customary name: Container weighing reform

The verified container weight is the total weight of the cargo and the tare weight of the container, including packaging and dunnage.

Misreporting of the gross weight of containers poses risks to domestic and foreign personnel, inland and maritime cargo and equipment and leads to accidents, and the regulations to verify the gross mass of containers (VGM) aim to reduce the occurrence of such accidents.

International Convention on VGM

VGM data plays a vital role in maritime safety, as misreporting of container gross weight poses risks to domestic and foreign personnel, inland and offshore cargo and equipment, and verifying container gross mass (VGM) can greatly reduce this risk. occurrence of such accidents. Therefore, the International Maritime Organization has also stipulated that starting from July 1, 2016, containers are no longer allowed to be loaded unless the shipper on the bill of lading provides the ocean carrier and/or terminal representative with the container weight.

The new regulations clearly state:

  1. The shipper is responsible for providing the container weight.
  2. There are two approved weighing methods to determine the weight of a container.
  3. Terminal operators are obliged to ensure that only containers with verified weight can be boarded.

VGM information includes:

  • 1) Booking No. or B/L No.;
  • 2) Container No.;
  • 3) Verified Gross Mass(VGM);
  • 4) Weight Scale(MT/KGS/LBS);
  • 5) Signature (Responsible Party);
  • 6) Authorized Person;

What are the weighing methods for container VGM?

  1. Overall weighing method:
    After the cargo is packed and the door is closed, it is the overall load-bearing capacity of the cargo container. Note: The equipment used to verify the total weight of the container should meet the accuracy standards and requirements of the measurement supervision department for the equipment and requires certification.
    Calculation formula: (total weight of trailer loaded with containers) – (weight of trailer head, frame and fuel tank gasoline/diesel) = VGM weight
  2. Accumulated load-bearing method:
    Add the load-bearing cargo and its packaging plus the dead weight of the container.
    Calculation formula: (weight of goods) + (total weight of all packaging materials) + (self-weight of container) = VGM weight

VGM error tolerance range

VGM allows a certain degree of error, but the error range cannot exceed the allowable range.

VGM error range: +/-5% or 1 ton (whichever is smaller)
Percentage calculation formula: (actual weight-declared weight)/actual weight
If the VGM data provided exceeds the error range, the port will still cancel the release, so it must be accurate.

After submitting the VGM, it cannot be submitted again, only changes can be made. (Each shipping company has different charges for changes, and they will be treated specifically in actual operations)

Can VGM data be modified?

  1. The shipping company allows modification before the deadline;
  2. After the deadline, modifications are allowed, but the shipping company needs to charge a fee;
  3. In principle, no changes will be accepted 6 hours before the ship berths. (Subject to specific regulations of the shipping company)

Possible impact of incorrect declaration of VGM

  • Affecting the safety of ship navigation, the overweight and weight error of cargo containers will change the stability and strength of the ship, which may cause the cargo to fall into the water, or the entire ship to sink.
  • Threatening the safe production of terminals, overweight cargo containers will not only damage themselves and their cargo, but also damage port vehicles and even cause the yard door to collapse.
  • It may constitute a breach of contract against the carrier, and the carrier has the right to collect liquidated damages from the cargo party in accordance with the agreement when the two parties concluded the transportation contract and the provisions of the bill of lading.
  • Delaying the normal shipping schedule, the goods will not be allowed to be shipped until the shipper has corrected the violation. In the current tense situation of “ships queuing up and cargo pressing at the port”, this will bring unbearable losses to the shipper.

For the safety of ship navigation and terminal operations, shippers must enhance their awareness of safety subject responsibilities, bear the responsibility and obligation to verify the actual weight of cargo containers before delivery to ships for transportation, and truthfully inform the cargo agent or carrier of the basic conditions of the cargo. Minimize the potential safety hazards of the ship caused by errors.

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