China issues guidelines to SOLAS container weight rule

In a consultation paper sent to all agencies of the Transport Ministry and translated by CargoSmart, the guidelines stated that vessels and terminals could not load a container for which the verified gross mass, or VGM, had not been received.

This is consistent with all other jurisdictions that have so far issued information on the amendment to the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS convention that will become law in all 162 signatory states from July 1. Hong Kong issued its guidelines earlier this month.

The China paper outlined enforcement actions that would be conducted at its busy ports. “All marine management agencies should perform random checks on the verified gross mass of packed containers loaded onto vessels,” the guidelines stated. 

Any discrepancy between the VGM declared by the shipper and the VGM obtained by maritime agencies, vessels, carriers or terminal operators must be within plus or minus 5 percent or 1 ton. Should the variance be outside that, agencies should request that the vessel carrying the box correct the weight information “after the potential risk of safety has been minimized.” This presumably means the container contents must be reduced and the box re-weighed by the terminal and loaded back on the ship.

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