Verified Gross Mass: A commitment to safety verified

Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is a commitment to safety. But what exactly does it mean and how does it affect you?

On the 1 July 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) introduced the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) amendment to container weighing regulations.

Designed to increase maritime safety, the SOLAS amendment stipulates that – prior to the load list cut-off date – the shipper must provide the ocean carrier and/or port terminal representative with a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for every container they wish to ship.

A container’s VGM represents its total weight – including its cargo, dunnage and bracing, and tare weight. If you are the shipper, you must provide this in the shipping document, either as part of your shipping instruction or in a separate communication.

There are two approved methods for calculating a container’s VGM:

  • The container is weighed after it has been stuffed
  • The total weight of the cargo is added to the container’s tare weight

Don’t miss the boat!

If you don’t share the VGM information on time, we can’t load your containers onto the vessel. There are no exceptions to this rule, so make sure you submit your VGM to avoid delays.

How does VGM impact you as a shipper?

Shippers are required to include the VGM for every container in the shipping instructions – whether they share the document manually, via or via EDI.

As the shipper, you are responsible for providing Safmarine and the terminal representative with the VGM for every container you want to ship – prior to the load list cut-off date. 

Who is the shipper?

The shipper is the legal entity:

  • Named as the shipper in the ocean bill of lading, sea way bill or equivalent multimodal transport document
  • With whom, in whose name or on whose behalf a contract of carriage has been concluded with a shipping company

Irrespective of delegation to third parties or similar, the shipper is responsible for the following. 

  • Providing VGM information – within the shipping instructions – for every container, whether the document is submitted manually via or via EDI
  • Integrating the VGM weighing process into the shipment cycle
  • Calculating the potential cost and impact of obtaining and providing the VGM
  • Gathering information on possible local legislation regarding government imposed penalties or fines

We are here to help

As the shipper, if you don’t comply or provide the required VGM information to both Safmarine and the terminal representative prior to the load list cut-off date, containers will not be loaded onto the vessel.

No-one wants this to happen. So, at Safmarine, we do all we can to make sure your shipping process runs smoothly. We assess any possible impacts of local government VGM regulations and assist with the submission of your VGM information to the port terminal.

How does VGM impact you as a vendor?

The IMO regulation states clearly that no container shall be loaded onto a vessel unless a VGM is provided - with no exceptions. It is, therefore, the terminal operator’s obligation to ensure that a VGM exists before including a container in the final stowage plan. As the ocean carrier, it is part of our job to ensure that the final load list only includes containers with a VGM.

Your role as a terminal operator

Local and national legislation dictates the consequences of loading a container without a VGM. As a terminal operator, you naturally need to be aware of this.

Terminal operators receive the VGM information either from the shipper or from the ocean carrier, and you need to have EDI or other processes in place to receive and process this information. If the VGM is obtained by weighing at your premises, it is your responsibility to process and forward this VGM information back to the carrier. As your carrier, we ensure that you have these processes in place.

In rare cases, terminals may weigh a stuffed container for which a VGM has already been communicated. If there turns out to be a difference in the weights, the VGM arrived at by the terminal will be used.

Other vendors

Other vendors that are not part of the SOLAS Amendment – such as those providing barge, rail, depot or trucking services at origin – may be included in the delivery of information relevant to the SOLAS Amendment, where this is practical.

If you have any questions regarding VGM submission deadlines, please contact your local Safmarine representative.

Click here for an overview of how the VGM regulation was formed

Click here to download our ‘VGM in brief’ PDF

Click here to download our VGM FAQs PDF

Anything you need, just ask

 Whatever you need from your shipping solution, we are here to help.



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