Industry Issues

Container Weight FAQ

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Q: As a consolidator, there are frequently multiple entities placing cargo in the same container; who is responsible for VGM?

A: The shipper named on the maritime carrier’s bill of lading remains responsible. There are many permutations by which the cargo is presented and packed; it is recognized that the ‘shipper’ may ultimately have no physical control over the packing at any point. Consequently, the shipper, that in this case is also the consolidator, will need to implement a process and supporting contractual arrangements to ensure that all elements required under Method 2 are taken into account. This will involve ensuring that the entities presenting the constituent cargoes understand the obligations to provide accurate mass and take contractual responsibility for doing so. Furthermore, any third party service provider actually packing the container will have to maintain a documented process to sum cargo, pallets, dunnage and securing material, plus adding in the tare mass of the container being packed.

Such a shipper/consolidator will need to consider:

1. Communication with counterparties about the new obligations;

2. Due diligence as to what capability a counterparty, particularly one on whom the shipper may rely to provide information, has in relation to physically weighing and carrying out required processes; and,

3. Some form of signed (and dated) declaration for all elements of the cargo handled.

Ultimately, the consolidator who is named as the shipper on the maritime carrier’s bill of lading should be checking, though contractual and practical arrangements, that the final entity that puts the last cargo inside the container, closes the door and seals it, satisfactorily obtains and communicates VGM to the carrier and terminal.

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