Weight Verification Amendments to SOLAS Chapter VI

Posted: 17/5/2016

The TR Logistics Group are member of BIFA, The British International Freight Association the trade association for UK-registered companies engaged in the international movement of freight by all modes of transport, air, road, rail and sea.

Please see below the comprehensive presentation given by BIFA in relation to Weight Verification Amendments to SOLAS Chapter VI

Anticipated that amendments will come into force on 1st July 2016.

For any further clarification or you are unsure of any of the information detailed within this literature please do not hesitate to contact us info@tr-logistics.com

Container Weight Verification

The changes to the SOLAS Convention (Safety of Life at Sea) were agreed at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2014.

What are the main issues?

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The main issues are:

  • Overweight/Underweight containers
  • Misdeclared freight
  • Poor weight distribution within a container
  • Inadequate securing that leads to the container becoming unstable
  • Topic has been frequently debated but up until recently there was little progress towards a solution
  • Global problem-affecting exports from and imports into the UK

Time scale

  • Amendment to SOLAS was passed at IMO in May 2014
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UK regulator with responsibility for implementing change) has consulted with trade
  • No new legislation required as UK law already enshrines the principle of the shippers responsibility:-
  • Carriage of Goods at Sea Act 1971, Article IIIParagraph 5
  • The Merchant Shipping (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999 Part II (1)(a)(i) and Paragraph 6 (2)

Main Proposals

  • Globally applicable, the main change is that “the gross mass according to paragraph 2.1 of this regulation shall be verified by the shipper, either by:
  • Method 1 ,weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment : or
  • Method 2, weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed
  • The shipper of a container shall ensure that the verified gross mass is stated in the shipping document, which is:-
  • Signed by a person duly authorised by the shipper
  • Submitted to the master or his representative and to the terminal representative sufficiently in advance to be used in preparing the ships stowage plan
  • Where the verified weight has not been provided to the ships master and his representative or the terminal representative the container shall not be loaded on to the ship

Main aims of the changes

  • The proposed amendments to SOLAS are intended to:-
  • Reduce the loss of containers from vessels
  • Provide assurance to other parties in the supply chain
  • Improve the safety of the:-
  • Workforce
  • Vessel
  • Equipment
  • This amendment is prepared in conjunction with;-
  • ISO 3874 (Freight containers handling and storage)
  • Revision of the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC)

Scope of applicability

  • Requirement to verify the gross mass of packed containers applies to:-
  • All containers to which CSC applies
  • To be stowed onto a ship determined by the Administration to be subject to SOLAS Chapter VI
  • Containers include:-
  • Standard seafreight container
  • Tank containers
  • Flat racks
  • Bulk containers


Regulations do not apply:-

  • Where containers carried on a chassis or trailer which are driven on or off a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages.
  • “Offshore containers “ to which the CSC according to the Guidelines for the approval of offshore containers handled in open seas (MSC/Cir.860) and the Revised Recommendations of harmonized interpretation and implementation of the International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972 as amended ((CSC.1/Circ.138/Rev.1) does not apply.
  • Certain types of container which do not meet the definition of the term container as defined in the CSC are also excluded:-
  • “of a size that the area enclosed by the four outer bottom corners is either;-
    1. at least 14 sq. m (150 sq. ft.); or
    2. at least 7 sq. m ( 75 sq. ft.) if it is fitted with top corner fittings

Methods of Calculation

  • Main principle is that the shipper is responsible for obtaining and documenting the “verified” gross mass of a packed container rests with the shipper
  • Only two methods permitted
  • Method 1-weigh the whole container and contents
  • Method 2-weigh individual items and add this to dunnage and container weight
  • Weighing the containers contents under Method 2 is subject to certification and approval as determined by the competent authority of the State in which the packing and sealing of the container was completed
  • All weighing equipment must be certified to meet the accuracy standards and requirements of the State, in which it is used e.g. calibrated and maintenance records required.


  • Shipper required to verify the gross mass:-
  • Using Method 1 and Method 2
  • “And to communicate the verified mass in a shipping document”

Document can be;-

  • Shipping instruction to the line: or
  • Separate communication such as a weight certificate, EDI message
  • Information must highlight that the gross mass is the “verified gross mass”.
  • Document declaring the verified gross mass must be signed by somebody duly authorised by the shipper
  • Electronic signature
  • Capitals on hard copy
  • Verified gross mass must be provided to the ships master or representative and terminal operator sufficiently in advance to be used in stowage planning.
  • Electronically via EDI

Chain of responsibility



Terminal Operator


Main contract is between shipper and carrier:-

  • Under SOLAS shipper fulfils contractual requirements by providing the verified weight to the shipping line
  • Shipping lines is the responsible to provide this data to the terminal
  • Shipper may also submit verified gross mass to the terminal upon delivery of the container to the port
  • Information must be received in time to be used by master and terminal representative in the ships stowage plan
  • N.B-if shipper uses third party loader , the shipper is still responsible for:-
  • Accuracy of verified weight
  • Providing this to shipping line


“Handshake principleinformation passed from one party to the next in the supply chain:-

ShipperShipping LineTerminal

On arrival at destination as the verified weight was provided at origin it is more likely that information provided will be accurate:-

Shipping LineTerminal Import Freight ForwarderImport Freight Forwarder → HaulierImporter

System will be:-

  • Transparent
  • Operates in tandem with other supply chain processes and documentation
  • Clear lines of responsibility
  • Increase understanding of individual responsibilities
  • Where operated and enforced the system will assist in preventing:-
  • Containers which are overweight or have a incorrect weight being loaded
  • Protect life, vessels and equipment

Processes to establish verified weight

  • In order to use Method 2, SOLAS requires the MCA to approve the certified method used by the shipper.
  • Trade argued for:-
  • Simplicity
  • Transparency
  • Utilisation of existing workflows
  • Where possible use existing documents
  • Minimum cost
  • Companies accredited to used Method 2 will be registered on a central database by the MCA, which can be accessed by:-
  • Approved shippers
  • Shipping lines
  • Terminal operators

Routes to Accreditation

  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is UK agency responsible for maritime safety
  • Responsible to enforce the SOLAS amendment
  • 3rd level bullet
  • Have issued guidance in MGN534 (M+F) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436986/MGN534_Complete.pdf
  • UK Compliance regime will include
  • Application process
  • Accreditation
  • Approval and registration

Routes to AccreditationMethod 2

  • Traders with existing certificated systems:-
  • QMS-ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 28001
  • Compliance-AEO

Can use these as basis for application to become a “verified weigher” under Method 2 if they include weighing procedures

  • Where companies have obtained above accreditation but not included weighing procedures:-
  • Add them as appropriate
  • Must bring to attention of certification/awarding body
  • Submit documents to the MCA
  • Other accreditation bodies/approvals

 Alternative to Method 2

  • Method 1

Application Procedure

  • Applicants will need to submit the following as part of their application;-
  • Full Company name and head office address
  • Addresses where verified weighing will be undertaken
  • Names of responsible person(s)
  • Initial e-mail application should be sent to container.weight@mcga.gov.uk
  • Fuller information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/verification-of-the-gross-mass-of-packed-containers-by-seaand https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436986/MGN534_Complete.pdf


Documented procedures covering:-

  • Weighing procedures to be used for Method 2
  • Describing the weighing equipment to be used
  • Equipment maintenance procedures
  • Calibration procedures (external and external)
  • Discrepancy, review and improvement procedures
  • Identifying and quarantining non-compliant equipment
  • Record retention
  • Training
  • Relevant supporting procedures
  • Other relevant documents

Monitoring the Approval

MCA issues a authorisation number to the verified shipper in the following format:-

  • 1234/GB/12AA
  • 1234 Sequential number issued by MCA to approved party
  • GB-country of issue
  • 12AA-expiry date of approval
  • Details recorded on central database.
  • Authorised parties can access data
  • MCA monitors compliance
  • Inspects as required
  • Approvals can be revoked

Enforcement and Penalties

  • Enforcement methods and penalties will be under
  • Merchant Shipping (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 ??????
  • Main sanction under SOLAS is that unless the verified weight has been provided to the ships master or his representative and the terminal operator the container should not be loaded onboard the vessel
  • Commercial enforcement:-
  • Risk based spot checks
  • Additional costs for repacking container etc.
  • Delays
  • Contractual penalties
  • Regulatory enforcement
  • Spot checks
  • Prosecution leading to fines

Rules regulating specific cargoes

  • Annex 2, Paragraph 7.2.2 highlights certain cargoes are difficult to weigh e.g. :-
  • Scrap metal
  • Unbagged grain
  • Other unbagged bulk cargo
  • SOLAS states that for these products that use of Method 2 is inappropriate and impractical
  • For these products “Method 1 should be used”

Method 1 Advantages v Disadvantages

  • Need to decide whether to own equipment or weigh “en route”
  • Equipment must be calibrated to national standards
  • Issue certificates
  • New technology


  • No application process nor administration to upkeep accreditation
  • Only need to establish weight of container at a single point
  • Pay or Use As You Go principle
  • Can easily be subcontracted
  • Less scope for errors (no adding up nor weighing dunnage etc.)


  • Potential problem of establishing who, when and where
  • Overweight on road?
  • Communication of weight to carrier if done on route
  • Obtaining documents/records if carried out off site
  • Lack of public weighbridges in the UK
  • Account for weight of vehicle., trailer, etc

Method 2 Advantages and Disadvantages

  • May involve additional cost
  • Equipment
  • Maintenance and calibration


  • Know what the weighing process is and when it will be done-control and certainty
  • Increased options and flexibility-handshake principle
  • Accreditation is an indicator of competence within the market
  • Prevent overloaded vehicles on the road
  • Possible revenue stream
  • Potentially easier communication of verified weight to carrier


  • Increased administration in obtaining and maintaining certification
  • Potential increased costs which may not be covered by revenue
  • Increased liability if use Method 2

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