SOLAS VGM: An Essential Guide to Verified Gross Mass Requirements

SOLAS VGM: An Essential Guide to Verified Gross Mass Requirements

Understanding the SOLAS VGM (Verified Gross Mass) is crucial for anyone involved in the shipping industry. It’s a requirement under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which mandates the accurate declaration of a packed container’s gross mass before it is loaded onto a ship. Implemented on July 1, 2016, the SOLAS VGM rule is designed to prevent accidents caused by incorrect weight declarations, such as cargo shifting or stack collapses.

SOLAS VGM: An Essential Guide to Verified Gross Mass Requirements

Understanding SOLAS VGM Requirements

Complying with SOLAS VGM involves strict adherence to guidelines that shippers must follow without exception. If the verified gross mass isn’t provided, the container cannot be legally loaded onto the ship. 

The main requirements include:

  • The Shipper’s Responsibility: The shipper must determine and provide the verified gross mass of the container. This information needs to be accurately documented and submitted to the shipping line and terminal operator well in advance for effective stowage planning.
  • Verification Before Loading: A container can only be loaded onto a vessel after its gross mass has been accurately verified and documented. This ensures the vessel’s safety and stability during its voyage.

SOLAS VGM Verification Methods

For compliance with SOLAS VGM, shippers have two methods at their disposal:


  • Method 1: Involve weighing the entire packed container using equipment that is calibrated and certified.
  • Method 2: Entails weighing all contents of the container—including cargo, packing materials, and securing materials—and then adding the container’s tare weight.


SOLAS VGM in International Shipping: What Does It Mean?

In the context of international shipping, SOLAS VGM is a critical safety measure. It ensures that the weight of loaded containers is accurately reported, preventing potential accidents and improving the overall safety of sea transport operations.

Container VGM Weighing Methods

The two approved methods for verifying a container’s gross mass provide flexibility while maintaining safety standards:

  • Overall Weighing: This involves weighing the entire container after it’s packed and sealed.
  • Accumulated Weighing: This involves weighing all individual items, packaging, and dunnage separately, and then adding their total weight to the container’s tare weight.

VGM Error Tolerance Range in SOLAS Requirements


The SOLAS convention allows for a small margin of error in the reported VGM of a container. The error tolerance range is within +/- 5% or 1 ton (whichever is smaller), accounting for minor discrepancies in weighing equipment or calculation errors.

Can VGM Data Be Modified After Submission?

Yes, VGM data can be revised before the shipping cut-off date, typically for a fee charged by the shipping company. However, changes are generally not accepted within 6 hours of vessel loading to ensure the accuracy of the shipping manifest.

Consequences of Incorrect SOLAS VGM Declarations


Incorrect SOLAS VGM declarations can have severe implications, affecting the safety of the ship and its crew, the terminal equipment, and the overall shipping schedule. Inaccurate VGM can lead to vessel instability, operational delays, and safety risks at terminals. Accurate VGM reporting is not only a regulatory requirement but also a vital element of global shipping safety protocols..


Some Words from
our Clients