Industry Issues

Container Weight FAQ

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Q: Q: How accurate does the VGM need to be? Is there a percentage +/- or is there +/- mass?

A: It is important to distinguish between the issue of accuracy and the issue of government enforcement tolerance thresholds:

The SOLAS regulations require, for both Method 1 and Method 2, that the mass be obtained using certified and calibrated weighing equipment in conformance with applicable requirements and standards in the jurisdiction where the weighing takes place. These requirements and standards establish the accuracy with which the mass will be obtained. Therefore, if such equipment is used to obtain the verified gross mass, then the shipper is in compliance with SOLAS and the VGM obtained will have an accuracy that is acceptable – even if, for whatever reason, the container is weighed again at some other place and that weighing results in a different gross mass. In this regard, the expectation should be that in the overwhelming majority of cases the carrier and the terminal will rely on the VGM provided by the shipper and no re-weighing would take place.

If such certified and calibrated weighing equipment is used, with the implied accuracy, then the shipper will also normally be within the tolerance thresholds that governments may establish in relation to any enforcement action. No reasonable government would establish an enforcement threshold that is more stringent than that applicable to certified and calibrated weighing equipment. This would apply also to cases where the mass of the goods may differ due to atmospheric conditions or hygroscopic properties of the goods.

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