Please be advised that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will from 1st July 2016 enforce the new SOLAS weight regulations approved by the Maritime Safety Committee in 2014. Accordingly it will be a mandatory requirement for exporters to supply a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declaration before a container may be loaded on board.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) is entrusted as the formal Government body to implement the legislation. They have already sought comments and questions from the market and there are further stakeholder meetings planned for February, where these submissions, regulations and draft legislation will be considered.

There are many questions still open on how the verification demands on both companies and individuals will be managed and it is likely that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will also be involved with their ‘Trading Standards’ department overseeing this element of the process. There is no definitive position on how the VGM may be presented – either electronically or via paper – but as an industry we wish to make this as efficient and cost effective as possible. We are working with stakeholders to find a deliverable solution for you, our customers, and we plan to advise you more on this in the coming weeks.

SOLAS regulations mean effective 1st July 2016, all shippers of packed containers will be required to provide and verify a container’s Gross Verified Container Weight to the Ocean Carrier and Port Terminal representative prior to it being loaded onto a ship. A Verified Container Weight will become a global legal condition for loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export. The Vessel and Terminal Operators are required to use Verified Container Weights for the purpose of vessel stowage plans, and are prohibited from loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export, if the container does not have a Gross Verified Container Weight lodged.

In terms of Imports into New Zealand, the legal obligation will lie with your overseas suppliers who are subject to the laws of the country that your container(s) originate from.

For Exports out of New Zealand, exporters will be required to provide the Gross Verified Container Weight information prior to the delivery of the container to the port.

This new Global regulation is under the mandate of Maritime New Zealand. It is important to note that this requirement will become compulsory on 1st July 2016, however the finer details of the legislation surrounding this prerequisite (including such matters as equipment certification, acceptable tolerance levels, documentation, required notice period etc), are still yet to be finalised by the local authorities.

The SOLAS regulations will prescribe two methods by which the shipper may obtain the Gross Verified Container Weight of a packed container:

Method 1

Upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container and using calibrated and certified equipment, the shipper may weigh, or arrange for a third party to weigh, the packed container. The scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment or other devices used to verify the Gross Verified Container Weight must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of New Zealand.

Method 2

The shipper (or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party) may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses on the container’s contents. The weighing equipment used to weigh the contents of the container must meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of New Zealand.

The tare mass of the particular container is visible on the exterior of the container and should be used. Estimating the weight of a container’s contents will not be permitted.

Below is a link to the CBAFF information site outlining SOLAS regulations.

We will continue to update this progress on implementation of these regulations as information comes to hand.

See WSC Guidelines for Improving Safety and Implementing the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirements here.