Container weight verification discussed at IMO.

Images of container

Implementation of new container weight verification rules was discussed at this week’s meeting of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) highlighted the need for countries to work together.

The requirement to verify the gross mass of a loaded container (VGM) prior to loading will become legally binding on 1 July 2016, and two methods of weighing have been outlined.

Speaking on a panel with colleagues from the World Shipping Council and TT Club, GSF Head of policy Alex Veitch focused on ‘Method 2’ which involves adding together the weight of all individual items and packaging, rather than ‘Method 1’ – weighing the packed container using certified and calibrated equipment.

Using ‘Method 2’, shippers are permitted to calculate the gross mass of the items and packaging rather than weighing them individually provided they are using an audit system authorised by the national government of the country in which they are operating, thus saving time and money.

However, as the deadline approaches for the implementation of the new rules, international companies are finding it challenging to establish the requirements for ‘Method 2’. In addition, where guidance is available, some countries are using slightly different approaches.

GSF urged member states to use international standards as far as possible for their ‘Method 2’ audit authorisation process, such as ISO 9001 or similar quality management standards. This will enable businesses to produce accurate container weight information with minimal impact on trade.

In the longer term, GSF encouraged member states to consider mutual recognition of each other’s ‘Method 2’ authorisation, similar in principle to bilateral arrangements between countries on customs issues.

Mr Veitch said:

“International shippers prefer to use international quality management standards as far as possible, to ensure all their sites around the world meet regulated requirements. We urge governments to publish their guidance for Container Weight Verification as soon as possible and to consider the use of ISO 9001 or similar standards in their ‘Method 2’ requirements.”

The event at IMO in London was organised by The International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) which was represented by GSF and the TT Club. The World Shipping Council was also on the panel.

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