Industry Issues

Container Weight FAQ

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Q: Clearly responsibilities start with the shipper. But who is 'the shipper' in the context of this new procedure?

A: This is an International issue. There are also Commercial implications.

Under the SOLAS requirements, the shipper named on the ocean bill of lading is the party responsible for providing the maritime (ocean) carrier ('master') and the terminal operator ('terminal representative') with the verified gross mass of a packed container. The carrier and the terminal operator must not load a packed container aboard a ship unless they have the verified gross mass for that container.

MSC 1/ Circ. 1475 defines 'the shipper' as "a legal entity or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent multimodal transport document as shipper, and/or who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company."

Due to the complexity of the international supply chain, the entity identified as the 'shipper' on the bill of lading may not have direct or physical control over key elements of the process by which verified gross mass is determined. A 'shipper' in such circumstances should be aware of their responsibilities and ensure that arrangements are in place to obtain and provide a verified gross mass in compliance with these international and national regulations.

It should be noted that the SOLAS requirements are distinct from INCOTERMS, which govern the sale of the goods, not the transport of the goods. The parties to the sales contract/contract of sale under INCOTERMS need to determine how verified gross mass will be obtained, i.e. whether by Method 1 or Method 2 (as permitted by the CA of the State in which the packing of the container is completed) and how this information can be provided to the carrier by the shipper as identified in the bill of lading.

If in doubt about which entity is 'the shipper', contact one of the organisations identified at the end of this document.

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