1.1 To ensure the safety of the ship, the safety
of workers both aboard ships and ashore, the safety of cargo and overall
safety at sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Life
at Sea (SOLAS), as amended, requires in chapter
VI, part A, regulation 2 that packed containers' gross mass
are verified prior to stowage aboard ship. The shipper is responsible
for the verification of the gross mass of a container carrying cargo
(hereinafter "a packed container"). The shipper is also responsible
for ensuring that the verified gross mass is communicated in the shipping
documents sufficiently in advance to be used by the ship's master
or his representative and the terminal representative in the preparation
of the ship stowage plan. In the absence of the shipper providing
the verified gross mass of the packed container, the container should
not be loaded on to the ship unless the master or his representative
and the terminal representative have obtained the verified gross mass
through other means.
1.2 The purpose of these Guidelines is to establish
a common approach for the implementation and enforcement of the SOLAS
requirements regarding the verification of the gross mass of packed
containers. The Guidelines provide recommendations on how to interpret
and apply the provisions of the SOLAS requirements. They also identify
issues that may arise from the application of these requirements and
provide guidance for how such issues should be resolved. Adherence
to these Guidelines will facilitate compliance with the SOLAS requirements
by shippers of containerized shipments, and they will assist other
parties in international containerized supply chains, including shipping
companies and port terminal facilities and their employees, in understanding
their respective roles in accomplishing the enhancement of the safe
handling, stowage and transport of containers.
2.1 For the purpose of these Guidelines:
Administration means the Government
of the State whose flag the ship is entitled to fly.
Calibrated and certified equipment means
a scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment or any other device, capable
of determining the actual gross mass of a packed container or of packages
and cargo items, pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material,
that meets the accuracy standards and requirements of the State in
which the equipment is being used.
Cargo items has the same general
meaning as the term "cargo" in the International Convention
for Safe Containers, 1972, as amended (hereinafter referred
to as "the CSC"), and means any goods, wares, merchandise, liquids,
gases, solids and articles of every kind whatsoever carried in containers
pursuant to a contract of carriage. However, ship's equipment and
ship's suppliesfootnote, including ship's
spare parts and stores, carried in containers are not regarded as
Container has the same meaning
as the term "container" in the CSC and means an article of transport
(a) of a permanent character and accordingly strong
enough to be suitable for repeated use;
(b) specially designed to facilitate the transport
of goods, by one or more modes of transport, without intermediate
(c) designed to be secured and/or readily handled,
having corner fittings for these purposes; and
(d) of a size such that the area enclosed by the
four outer bottom corners is either:
Contract of carriage means
a contract in which a shipping company, against the payment of freight,
undertakes to carry goods from one place to another. The contract
may take the form of, or be evidenced by a document such as sea waybill,
a bill of lading, or multi-modal transport document.
Gross mass means the combined
mass of a container's tare mass and the masses of all packages and
cargo items, including pallets, dunnage and other packing material
and securing materials packed into the container (see also "Verified
2.1.7 Package means one or more cargo
items that are tied together, packed, wrapped, boxed or parcelled
for transportation. Examples of packages include, but are not limited
to, parcels, boxes, packets and cartons.
Packed container means a container,
as previously defined, loaded ("stuffed" or "filled") with liquids,
gases, solids, packages and cargo items, including pallets, dunnage,
and other packing material and securing materials.
Packing material means any
material used or for use with packages and cargo items to prevent
damage, including, but not limited to, crates, packing blocks, drums,
cases, boxes, barrels, and skids. Excluded from the definition is
any material within individual sealed packages to protect the cargo
item(s) inside the package.
Securing material means all
dunnage, lashing and other equipment used to block, brace, and secure
packed cargo items in a container.
2.1.11 Ship means any vessel to which SOLAS chapter VI applies. Excluded from
this definition are roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships engaged on short
international voyagesfootnote where the
containers are carried on a chassis or trailer and are loaded and
unloaded by being driven on and off such a ship.
Shipper means a legal entity
or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill or equivalent
multimodal transport document (e.g. "through" bill of lading) as shipper
and/or who (or in whose name or on whose behalf) a contract of carriage
has been concluded with a shipping company.
Shipping document means a
document used by the shipper to communicate the verified gross mass
of the packed container. This document can be part of the shipping
instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication (e.g.
a declaration including a weight certificate produced by a weigh station).
Tare mass means the mass of
an empty container that does not contain any packages, cargo items,
pallets, dunnage, or any other packing material or securing material.
Terminal representative means
a person acting on behalf of a legal entity or person engaged in the
business of providing wharfage, dock, stowage, warehouse, or other
cargo handling services in connection with a ship.
Verified gross mass means
the total gross mass of a packed container as obtained by one of the
methods described in paragraph 5.1 of these Guidelines. (see also
3.1 The SOLAS requirements to verify the gross
mass of a packed container apply to all containers to which the CSC applies, and which are to be stowed onto a ship
determined by the Administration to be subject to SOLAS chapter VI.
3.2 For example (but not limited to), a packed
container on a chassis or trailer to be driven on a ro-ro ship is
subject to the SOLAS requirements, if the ship has been determined
by the Administration to be subject to SOLAS
chapter VI and is not engaged on short international voyages.
However, cargo items tendered by a shipper to the master for packing
into a container already on board the ship are not subject to these
3.3 The term container includes tank-containers,
flat-racks, bulk containers etc. Also included are containers carried
on a chassis or a trailer except when such containers are driven on
or off a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages (see definition
of ship). Excluded from the definition is any type of vehiclefootnote. Also excluded from the definition are
"offshore containers" to which the CSC, according to the Guidelines
for the approval of offshore containers handled in open seas (MSC/Circ.860)
and the Revised recommendations on harmonized interpretation
and implementation of the International Convention for Safe Containers,
1972, as amended (CSC.1/Circ.138/Rev.1),
does not apply.
4.1 The responsibility for obtaining and documenting
the verified gross mass of a packed container lies with the shipper.
4.2 A container packed with packages and cargo
items should not be loaded onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations
apply unless the master or his representative and the terminal representative
have obtained, in advance of vessel loading, the verified actual gross
mass of the container.
Methods for obtaining the
verified gross mass of a packed container
5.1 The SOLAS regulations prescribe two methods
by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed
5.1.1 Method No.1: Upon the conclusion of packing
and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that
a third party weighs, the packed container.
5.1.2 Method No.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 using a certified
method as described in paragraphs 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11.1. Any third
party that has performed some or all of the packing of the container
should inform the shipper of the mass of the cargo items and packing
and securing material that the party has packed into the container
in order to facilitate the shipper's verification of the gross mass
of the packed container under Method No.2. As required by SOLAS VI/2 and paragraph 5, the shipper
should ensure that the verified gross mass of the container is provided
sufficiently in advance of vessel loading. How such information is
to be communicated between the shipper and any third party should
be agreed between the commercial parties involved.
18.104.22.168 Individual, original sealed packages that
have the accurate mass of the packages and cargo items (including
any other material such as packing material and refrigerants inside
the packages) clearly and permanently marked on their surfaces, do
not need to be weighed again when they are packed into the container
22.214.171.124 Certain types of cargo items (e.g. scrap
metal, unbagged grain and other cargo in bulk) do not easily lend
themselves to individual weighing of the items to be packed in the
container. In such cases, usage of Method No.2 would be inappropriate
and impractical, and Method No.1 should be used instead.
126.96.36.199 The method used for weighing the container's
contents under Method No.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.footnote
188.8.131.52.1 How the certification is to be done
will be up to the State concerned, and could pertain to either the
procedure for the weighing or to the party performing the weighing
5.1.3 If a container is packed by multiple parties
or contains cargo from multiple parties, the shipper as defined in
paragraph 2.1 is responsible for obtaining and documenting the verified
gross mass of the packed container. If the shipper chooses Method
No.2 to obtain the verified gross mass, the shipper is then subject
to all the conditions given in paragraphs 5.1.2, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11,
6.1 The SOLAS regulations require the shipper
to verify the gross mass of the packed container using Method No.1
or Method No.2 and to communicate the verified gross mass in a shipping
document. This document can be part of the shipping instructions to
the shipping company or a separate communication (e.g. a declaration
including a weight certificate produced by a weigh station utilizing
calibrated and certified equipment on the route between the shipper's
origin and the port terminal). In either case, the document should
clearly highlight that the gross mass provided is the "verified gross
mass" as defined in paragraph 2.1.
6.2 Irrespective of its form, the document declaring
the verified gross mass of the packed container should be signed by
a person duly authorized by the shipper. The signature may be an electronic
signature or may be replaced by the name in capitals of the person
authorized to sign it.
6.3 It is a condition for loading onto a ship
to which the SOLAS regulations apply that the verified gross mass
of a packed container be provided, preferably by electronic means
such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or Electronic Data Processing
(EDP), to the ship's master or his representative and to the terminal
representative sufficiently in advance of ship loading to be used
in the preparation and implementation of the ship stowage plan.
6.3.1 Because the contract of carriage is between
the shipper and the shipping company, not between the shipper and
the port terminal facility, the shipper may meet its obligation under
the SOLAS regulations by submitting the verified gross mass to the
shipping company. It is then the responsibility of the shipping company
to provide information regarding the verified gross mass of the packed
container to the terminal representative in advance of ship loading.
Similarly, the shipper may also submit the verified gross mass to
the port terminal facility representative upon delivery of the container
to the port facility in advance of loading.
18.104.22.168 The master or his representative and the
terminal representative should enter into arrangements to ensure the
prompt sharing of verified container gross mass information provided
by shippers. Existing communication systems may be used for the transmission
and sharing of such verified container gross mass information.
22.214.171.124 At the time a packed container is delivered
to a port terminal facility, the terminal representative should have
been informed by the shipping company whether the shipper has provided
the verified gross mass of the packed container and what that gross
6.3.2 There is no SOLAS prescribed time deadline
for the shipper's submission of the verified gross mass other than
such information is to be received in time to be used by the master
and the terminal representative in the ship stowage plan. The finalization
of the ship stowage plan will depend on ship type and size, local
port loading procedures, trade lane and other operational factors.
It is the responsibility of the shipping company with whom the shipper
enters into a contract of carriage to inform the shipper, following
prior discussions with the port terminal, of any specific time deadline
for submitting the information.
7.1 The scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment
or other devices used to verify the gross mass of the container, in
accordance with either Method No.1 or Method No.2 discussed above,
should meet the applicable accuracy standards and requirements of
the State in which the equipment is being used.
Intermodal container movements
8.1 The verified gross mass of a packed container
should be provided to the next party taking custody of the container.
8.1.1 If a packed container is transported by
road, rail or a vessel to which the SOLAS regulations do not apply
and delivered to a port terminal facility without its verified gross
mass, it may not be loaded onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations
apply unless the master or his representative and the terminal representative
have obtained the verified gross mass of the container on behalf of
the shipper (see also paragraph 13.1).
8.1.2 If a packed container is delivered to a
port terminal facility by a ship to which the SOLAS regulations apply
for transhipment onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations also apply,
each container being delivered is required by the SOLAS regulations
to have had a verified gross mass before loading onto the delivering
ship. All packed containers discharged in the transhipment port should
therefore already have a verified gross mass and further weighing
in the transhipment port facility is not required. The delivering
ship should inform the port terminal facility in the transhipment
port of the verified gross mass of each delivered packed container.
The master of the ship onto which the transhipped, packed containers
are to be loaded and the port terminal facility in the transhipment
port may rely on the information provided by the delivering vessel.
Existing ship-port communication systems may be used for the provision
of such information in agreement between the commercial parties involved.
Discrepancies in gross mass
9.1 Any discrepancy between a packed container's
gross mass declared prior to the verification of its gross mass and
its verified gross mass should be resolved by use of the verified
9.2 Any discrepancy between a verified gross mass
of a packed container obtained prior to the container's delivery to
the port terminal facility and a verified gross mass of that container
obtained by that port facility's weighing of the container should
be resolved by use of the latter verified gross mass obtained by the
port terminal facility.
Containers exceeding their
maximum gross mass
VI/5 requires that a container not be packed to more than the maximum
gross mass indicated on the Safety Approval Plate under the International
Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), as amended. A container with
a gross mass exceeding its maximum permitted gross mass may not be
loaded onto a ship.
Containers on road vehicles
11.1 If the verified gross mass of a packed container
is obtained by weighing the container while it is on a road vehicle,
(e.g. chassis or trailer), the tare mass of the road vehicle (and,
where applicable, the tractor) should be subtracted to obtain the
verified gross mass of the packed container. The subtraction should
reflect the tare mass of the road vehicle (and, where applicable,
the tractor) as indicated in their registration documents as issued
by the competent authority of the State where these assets are registered.
The mass of any fuel in the tank of the tractor should also be subtracted.
11.2 If two packed containers on a road vehicle
are to be weighed, their gross mass should be determined by weighing
each container separately. Simply dividing the total gross mass of
the two containers by two after subtracting the mass of the road vehicle
and the tractor, where applicable, would not produce an accurate verified
gross mass for each container, and should not be allowed.
12.1 Shippers of empty containers and operators
of empty containers are encouraged to have practices and arrangements
in place to ensure that they are empty. The tare weight will visually
appear on the container in accordance with the International Organization
for Standardization (ISO) standard for container marking and identificationfootnote) and should be used.
Contingencies for containers
received without a verified gross mass
13.1 Notwithstanding that the shipper is responsible
for obtaining and documenting the verified gross mass of a packed
container, situations may occur where a packed container is delivered
to a port terminal facility without the shipper having provided the
required verified gross mass of the container. Such a container should
not be loaded onto the ship until its verified gross mass has been
obtained. In order to allow the continued efficient onward movement
of such containers, the master or his representative and the terminal
representative may obtain the verified gross mass of the packed container
on behalf of the shipper. This may be done by weighing the packed
container in the terminal or elsewhere. The verified gross mass so
obtained should be used in the preparation of the ship loading plan.
Whether and how to do this should be agreed between the commercial
parties, including the apportionment of the costs involved.
Master's ultimate decision
whether to stow a packed container
14.1 Ultimately, and in conformance with the Code
of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securingfootnote, the ship's master should accept the
cargo on board his ship only if he is satisfied that it can be safely
transported. Nothing in the SOLAS regulations limit the principle
that the master retains ultimate discretion in deciding whether to
accept a packed container for loading onto his ship. Availability
to both the terminal representative and to the master or his representative
of the verified gross mass of a packed container sufficiently in advance
to be used in the ship stowage plan is a prerequisite for the container
to be loaded onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations apply. It
does, however, not constitute an entitlement for loading.
15.1 Like other SOLAS provisions, the enforcement
of the SOLAS requirements regarding the verified gross mass of packed
containers falls within the competence and is the responsibility of
the SOLAS Contracting Governments. Contracting Governments acting
as port States should verify compliance with these SOLAS requirements.
Any incidence of non-compliance with the SOLAS requirements is enforceable
according to national legislation.
15.2 The ultimate effectiveness and enforcement
of the SOLAS container gross mass verification requirement is that
a packed container, for which the verified gross mass has not been
obtained sufficiently in advance to be used in the ship stowage plan,
will be denied loading onto a ship to which the SOLAS regulations
apply. Any costs associated with the non-loading, storage, demurrage
or eventual return of the container to the tendering shipper of the
container should be subject to contractual arrangements between the
Effective date of the SOLAS
requirements regarding verified gross mass of a container carrying
16.1 The SOLAS requirements regarding verified
gross mass of a container carrying cargo (SOLAS
regulation VI/2) are expected to enter into force in July 2016.