Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) plans to introduce the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention on 1 July 2016. Find out what you need to know about SOLAS and the latest update from APL Logistics.

What is SOLAS?

SOLAS is to ensure the safety of a container carrying ship at sea. Under SOLAS, the gross mass of a container must be weighed, verified and correctly declared by the shipper or their appointed consolidator. This will guide ship stowage decisions to ensure vessel stability and safety. This will also ensure that safety of personnel and equipment that will load, unload or transport the containers.

How will SOLAS affect you?

SOLAS requires the shipper of a packed container to provide and verify the container's gross weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative in advance of loading. The carrier can refuse to load the container onto the vessel if the shipper fails to submit the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) information in full compliance of the format and within the cut-off time requirement of the carrier.

The verification of the VGM can be achieved by either weighing the packed container or 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.

The weighing equipment that is used also must meet individual country's national certification and calibration requirements.

Apart from the shipper, other parties that are active in the containerized supply chain will also be impacted in some way by this new regulation. Vessel operators and terminal operators are required to use VGM in stowage plans. Booking agents and/or forwarders are required to modify existing processes and enhance information systems in order to capture and transmit the VGM information to the carrier.

SOLAS FAQs

Click here for further information and most frequently asked questions on SOLAS

1. What will change as of the July 1, 2016 (SOLAS VGM Enforcement Date)?

Shipper named on the Bill of Lading is obligated to provide accurate and verified cargo weight to the carrier prior to vessel loading. This applies to all packed containers which are to be loaded onto a vessel under SOLAS regime in international maritime traffic.

2. Will APL Logistics provide the weighing service?

It is a value-added service we are already providing to our customers upon request. With approaching VGM implementation, we will continue to present our customers with weighing arrangements applicable for both FCL and LCL shipments.

3. How to submit VGM information to carrier?

It will be subject to specific carrier's implementation process and it may also vary country by country or port by port. We anticipate the possible solutions will be one of the following:

  • - via the new VGM oriented VERMAS (EDI) message
  • - via existing EDI connections (e-Shipping Instruction)
  • - via carrier online website
  • - via portal solutions (e.g. INTTRA, GT Nexus)
  • - via manual process, such as email

APL Logistics is also working on enhancing our systems to capture VGM information and help shippers to transmit eVGM information to all EDI portals and carriers via one of the above mentioned channels.

4. What will be the content in the VGM information?

Carriers are still working on the details. In general it shall include:

  • - verification party, including name and other contact information
  • - verification date
  • - VGM weight and Unit Of Measurement (e.g. KGS or LBS)
  • - Shipment reference info, i.e. vessel, BL#, container #, etc.
  • - Other national requirements

The requirements of the VGM data may also vary carrier by carrier and country by country.We are pending further notification from our carrier partners.

5. What is the e-signature requirement and is it obligatory for each transaction?

The e-signature requirement we have sighted, from the proposal of EDI portals/carriers, is a name entered into the EDI message in free text, and not an image. The name refers to the person who verified the weight.

However, local/national Laws/Rules might require additional data, processes or documents (e.g. weighing note).

6.What will be the consequences if VGM is not provided to the carrier?

The carrier can refuse to load the container onto the vessel. Depending on individual country legislation, potential penalties may also be imposed to the shipper as the consequence of non-compliance of the SOLAS regulation.

7. What is the tolerance range of VGM discrepancy?

There is no provision in SOLAS for any margin of discrepancy for the submitted VGM. National standards and requirements will determine the acceptable level of accuracy of the weighing equipment used.

8. Can a non-certified vendor use a certified weighbridge to obtain VGM information?

There is no provision in SOLAS. However, national authorities, as part of their enforcement policies may enact or implement requirements applicable to owners of weighing equipment. Any such requirements would be determined by national authorities.

9.Will shipper-declared VGM be verified at the terminal?

SOLAS requires the carrier and terminal to accept the shipper-declared VGM for vessel loading. Weight verification at the terminal is subject to the individual country's regulation and the local process of the carrier and terminal.

10.Will APL Logistics be responsible to add the container tare weight in addition to the shipper provided cargo weight for factory load shipments?

Container tare weight varies by container specifications and the information is available on the container door.

For factory load shipments, the shipper is responsible for the calculation of the VGM through adding container tare weight in addition to the cargo weight.

11.Will there be impact to the consolidation processing time? Any impact to the current cut-off?

We are pending details from carriers to announce the new cut-off time for VGM information collecting. We will adjust our cut-off time accordingly based on (1) carrier's cut-off time (2) lead time if there is a need to weigh the cargo or weigh the packed container.

12. What will be the additional cost brought by VGM implementation?

We foresee additional costs may be incurred due to weighing, trucking, carrier/terminal processing, data handling, and system/EDI enhancement.

Please refer to Exhibit B Indicative Weighing Service Rate at Key Origin Ports.

13. What is APL Logistics' specific process in respond to SOLAS implementation?

We have defined operational steps based on the best visibility and analysis of current SOLAS information. In the meantime, we are also monitoring the country specific regulations and carrier's requirements so we can further adjust and fine-tune our process.