Industry Issues

Container Weight FAQ

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Q: Is the terminal operator required to obtain the VGM directly from the shipper, or can the carrier transmit the VGM to the terminal operator after the carrier receives it from the shipper?

A: The terminal operator is not required to receive the VGM directly from the shipper. The IMO guidelines make clear that the requirement is that both the carrier and the terminal operator use the VGM in preparing the stow plan, but how the information flows and is shared among the parties is left to the operational and commercial discretion of the parties in order to allow for the most efficient processes to be used. The relevant IMO Guidelines read as follows:

6.3.1 Because the contract of carriage is between the shipper and the shipping company, not between the shipper and the port terminal facility, the shipper may meet its obligation under the SOLAS regulations by submitting the verified gross mass to the shipping company. It is then the responsibility of the shipping company to provide information regarding the verified gross mass of the packed container to the terminal representative in advance of ship loading. Similarly, the shipper may also submit the verified gross mass to the port terminal facility representative upon delivery of the container to the port facility in advance of loading. The master or his representative and the terminal representative should enter into arrangements to ensure the prompt sharing of verified container gross mass information provided by shippers. Existing communication systems may be used for the transmission and sharing of such verified container gross mass information. At the time a packed container is delivered to a port terminal facility, the terminal representative should have been informed by the shipping company whether the shipper has provided the verified gross mass of the packed container and what that gross mass is.

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