The SOLAS guidelines on container weight verification are not mandatory, says U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Thomas. These recent statements and the Coast Guard FAQs have caused some uncertainty among the shipping industry. What is certain is that the SOLAS verified gross mass certificate (VGM) is mandatory for IMO registered vessels in international trade. What is not mandatory are the guidelines for implementation, thus enabling shippers and carriers to have flexibility in procedures.
Admiral Thomas continues, “SOLAS places no legal obligation on the shipper. It places a legal obligation only on the vessel subject to SOLAS.”
Meaning, the SOLAS requirement applies to IMO flag-state vessels operating in international trade, and it is the rule of the vessel operators that decide whether the VGM document is required beginning July 1 at American ports.
March 2: SOLAS issues Regulation 2 amendments, which addresses the provision of cargo information verified by the shipper. (Link)
March 2: U.S. Coast Guard publishes new FAQs to provide context for complete understanding for SOLAS amendments (Link)